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England all-rounder Ben Stokes will have to carry more responsibility on his shoulders after being named the new Test team skipper. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: England’s new Test captain Ben Stokes is excited to start the summer with a three-Test series against New Zealand in June.

“I am honoured to be given the chance to lead the England Test team. This is a real privilege, and I’m excited about getting started this summer,” the 30-year-old all-rounder said on English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) website.

Stokes has become the 81st England Test captain, replacing Joe Root, who stepped down earlier this month following the reserves in the Ashes and the away series against the West Indies.

Following mounting pressure from former cricketers, Root ended his five-year stint as Test captain, saying that: “It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career, but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me; I know the timing is right.”

The ECB Interim Chairman and Chief Executive Officer approved the appointment on Tuesday evening following the recommendation by the Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket, Rob Key.

“I had no hesitation in offering the role of Test captain to Ben.

Thanking Root

“He epitomises the mentality and approach we want to take this team forward into the next era of red-ball cricket. I am delighted that he has accepted, and he is ready for the added responsibility and the honour. He thoroughly deserves the opportunity,” Key said.

Stokes, who has already served as the vice-captain of the England Test side under Root, is likely to be unveiled on Thursday, according to Guardian, while the ECB statement says that the new captain will speak to the media next week in Durham.

“I want to thank Joe (Root) for everything he has done for English Cricket and for always being a great ambassador for the sport all across the world. He has been a massive part of my development as a leader in the dressing room, and he will continue to be a key ally for me in this role.”

Stokes will have his first big test against New Zealand in a three-Test series, beginning at Lord’s on June 2. Incidentally, it was Stokes who had led England to their first 50-over World Cup title at the same venue in the final against New Zealand.

Brilliant leader

Stokes made his Test debut in December 2013 and has represented his country on 79 occasions at this level. He was named vice-captain in February 2017 and also stood in as captain when Root was absent for the birth of his second child in the summer of 2020. The Durham star currently has 5,061 Test runs at an average of 35.89. He has taken 174 wickets with the ball and is amongst the best all-rounders in the world.

England white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan had lent his support for the all-rounder, calling him a “brilliant leader”, adding that he will be the perfect fit. “Obviously Ben is a fantastic player, a brilliant leader, though he doesn’t need to have the captain’s armband on to lead like he does,” Morgan had told Sky Sports earlier.

“The experience of the [2019] World Cup final here [at Lord’s] really showed his true colours in the way that he led from start to finish — and throughout the whole tournament as well,” said Morgan.