Ben Stokes has revealed the pride he felt after being reinstated as England’s Test vice-captain.
Stokes was stripped of the role in 2017 following a late night brawl in Bristol but was restored as Joe Root’s deputy ahead of the Ashes, which starts in Birmingham on Thursday.
The all-rounder has impressed with the maturity he has shown around the England camp since being cleared on a charge of affray, with his off-field influence matched by his inspirational efforts during the triumphant World Cup campaign.
I take pride in being vice-captain. Being part of that think-tank is pretty coolBen Stokes
Jos Buttler had been acting as Root’s right-hand man but was happy to pass the baton back after ECB director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles and chief executive Tom Harrison recommended Stokes’ restoration.
Speaking on a weekend visit to his old club, Cockermouth CC in Cumbria, the 28-year-old said: “I love having that responsibility and it is something that I thoroughly enjoy doing.
“I take pride in being vice-captain. Being part of that think-tank is pretty cool.
“I am very good friends with Joe as well, off the field, and as much as I can do to help him through his career, not just as a captain but as a player as well, I am really looking forward to that challenge.
“I think it would have been just as exciting anyway, playing in an Ashes series is always special and they don’t come around that often but being named vice-captain again was very good words to hear when I got the call.”
Stokes headed back north after being rested for the Ireland Test at Lord’s, a chance to come down from the physical and emotional highs of his man-of-the-match performance at the same ground in the World Cup final.
That is the last spell of recuperation he can expect this summer, with five high-intensity Tests against Australia crammed into little more than six weeks.
Stokes missed the last series against the old enemy, stood down by the England and Wales Cricket Board following events in Bristol, and is more than happy to focus on the next challenge.
“Everything is sort of on the Ashes now,” he said.
“We have had that time to let everything sink in and reflect on that amazing seven weeks we have had in the World Cup, but the World Cup was half of the journey that we wanted to achieve this summer and the other half is winning the Ashes.
“Everything has been focused on what we are going to do to beat the Australians. It is going to be a busy six weeks, five Test matches against Australia isn’t easy.”