Stokes was officially appointed England captain on Thursday, replacing Joe Root after he resigned earlier this month. The all-rounder said he was “honoured” to have been given the job, labelling it a “real privilege”.
He said: “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.
“I want to thank Joe 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.”
And England’s new Managing Director of Men’s Cricket Rob Key insisted the “time is right” for Stokes to become captain and that he is “ready for the added responsibility”.
Atherton, who captained England for 54 Tests between 1993 and 2001, agrees that the “time is right” for Stokes to be handed the job, but believes he should only be a short-term option.
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In his latest column for the Times, Atherton wrote: “It would be a mistake to imagine Stokes as necessarily a long-term pick. Having seen the way the job wears down even the toughest and flintiest of characters, there is no need for the same to happen to Stokes.
“Let him give the job his all for a short period of time, hoping to help transform attitudes and approach, and then step away while he has more to give as a player.
“The England captaincy, it was once said, is a coconut, not a crown. There will be plenty of people having a shy at it, no doubt, in the months to come but, to quote Key: ‘The time is right.’ Indeed it is.”