Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has backed Ben Stokes to be a success as England Test captain, claiming the job could ” fire Stokes up to be something even more than the incredible player he is now”.
Joe Root stepped down as skipper earlier this month after five years in charge and Stokes is expected to replace him given he is one of few players guaranteed a spot in the side if fit and the current vice-captain. He is set to meet with new Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket Rob Key to discuss the captaincy and is expected to be offered the job.
And Shastri believes that giving Stokes the extra responsibility of the captaincy is the right thing to do. He told the Guardian : “The adrenaline of captaincy – not that he needs it – could fire Stokes up to be something even more than the incredible player he is now. The important relationship is with the captain – the moment there is friction, things go downhill. But they will be fine, because the England I saw last year, they have enough talent and skill to compete. There’s no doubt in my mind. It’s all about their mindset.”
Shastri also offered some advice to Key, who left his role as a commentator and pundit with Sky Sports to become England’s Managing Director earlier this month. Shastri did something similar in 2014, getting appointed India’s team director after spending more than 20 years in the commentary box.
“The most important thing is getting among the players and setting a tone from the outset: what you believe in, what you think of them and changing the mindset to compete and win,” Shastri added. “You have to be bullish and brutish in wanting to achieve that.
“For us, and now England, it was about setting the challenge of winning abroad, big time. I was very firm when it came to team culture: all the prima donnas and all that s***, that had to go out of the window early.
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“And you leave everything you said as a commentator behind. Park it. When I was the director of the team, it was about diagnosing problems: I was asked to hire and fire, whoever I wanted I could get in and whoever I didn’t could be shown the door.
“And it was also outlining how we want to play: to be aggressive and ruthless, to up the fitness levels, to get a group of fast bowlers to take 20 wickets overseas. And it was about attitude, especially when playing the Aussies.
“I told the boys if one single ‘f*** you’ comes your way, give them three back: two in our language and one in theirs.”