England’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes has made it clear that he has no captaincy ambition, backing, to the hilt, his under-fire Test skipper Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood in the wake of the Ashes debacle.
Root and Silverwood have faced sharp criticism following England's dismal show in the ongoing Ashes series, which the visitors trail 0-3.
Root has come under fire for his captaincy during the Ashes with Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Atherton, Ian Chappell and Ricky Ponting among his more high-profile critics.
“I’ve never really had an ambition to be a captain,” Stokes, the England vice-captain, told reporters.
The 30-year-old has led England in one previous Test, a defeat by West Indies in 2020 when Root was on paternity leave.
He also led England to a 3-0 ODI series win over Pakistan last year when an entire squad had to be replaced because of an outbreak of COVID-19.
“Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out there in the middle.
“A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.”
Root is set to become England’s longest-serving Test skipper when he leads the side out in the fourth Test here on Wednesday. He will overtake predecessor Alastair Cook, who captained the side for a record 59 matches.
While Root has been in imperious touch with the bat, this is the third Ashes series he has led without a win, but Stokes doesn't expect the 31-year-old to step down just yet.
“It's totally Joe’s decision. He shouldn’t be forced into doing it. I’m sure Cooky (Alastair Cook) felt the same way. He did it for so long and when he knew his time was up, his time was up.
“Those discussions haven’t entered anywhere near Joe yet. I don’t sense that at all with Joe. He's brought this team a long way. He's done some great things.
“Obviously this series hasn’t gone too well, not from a captaincy point of view, but from a team and results point of view,” he said.
Stokes also backed Silverwood, whose job hangs in balance.
“Unfortunately, the captain and coach bear the scrutiny, but there are 10 other guys out there in the field,” said Stokes.
“Chris Silverwood is a real players’ coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well.
“All the hype in the media recently about their futures, it's your job to write that, but they know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that's all that matters,” Stokes said.