Ben Stokes insists every England player is ‘starting fresh’ as the new Test captain looks to turn around awful run of just one victory in the last 17 games when they face New Zealand at Lord’s
- Ben Stokes will captain England for first time in a Test series with New Zealand
- Stokes insists every player will be given a ‘blank canvas’ with a chance to impress
- The all-rounder has replaced Joe Root as skipper following poor run of form
England embark on their latest new era against New Zealand at Lord’s on Thursday with captain Ben Stokes pledging to ‘make the Test team great again’ after a sequence of one win in 17 matches.
Stokes has led the Test side once before – against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl two summers ago when Joe Root was on paternity leave. But this month’s three-match series against the world champions represents his first chance to stamp his mark on the team, with the help of new coach Brendon McCullum.
‘I just want everyone to feel free under my captaincy,’ he said. ‘There has been talk around the word “reset”, which I don’t particularly like.
Ben Stokes is preparing for his first Test match as England captain against New Zealand
Stokes insists every player has a chance to impress including veterans such as Stuart Broad
England vs New Zealand (Lord’s, June 2-6)
England vs New Zealand (Trent Bridge, June June 10-14)
England vs New Zealand (Headingley, June 23-27)
‘I see this as a complete and utter blank canvas for this Test team. Everyone is starting fresh now, whether you are Matt Potts or Stuart Broad or Jimmy Anderson.
‘Brendon is all about making everyone feel, in his words, “10 feet tall”. It’s going to take time, but it’s just making guys believe that we’ve got your back. It’s about making the English Test team great again, which is what I’m very passionate about.’
Key to their chances will be the success of the top order, with Zak Crawley looking to prove that an average of 28 from 21 Tests does not reflect his talent, and Ollie Pope – who will bat at No 3 for the first time in his career – desperate to put a poor Ashes behind him.
‘Zak’s shown in stages how dominant and how good a player he is,’ said Stokes. ‘And as soon as I took the role on, one of the things I made very clear was that I wanted Ollie Pope in my Test team. I see him having a huge future in an England shirt.
‘I just hope that under mine and Baz’s laid-back and go-and-express-yourself way, the world will get to see what Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope are all about.’
With thousands of tickets still unsold for the first four days, Stokes also urged administrators to consider the cost of entry.
‘What is cricket or sport without its fans?’ he said. ‘We want to be attracting people to come and watch us because of the cricket we play and how successful we are, but I guess you have to look at how much it’s going to cost someone to get into the ground. I don’t set the prices but I think it does need to be looked at.’
Stokes has taken over captaincy duties from Joe Root following England’s poor run of form
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