For one match only Chris Silverwood, England’s coach, has a new duo in charge on the field. At the Ageas Bowl, where England begin their summer of Test cricket on 8 July, Ben Stokes will be in charge, which we have known for a while, and Jos Buttler will be keeping wicket, which had not been confirmed until Silverwood inadvertently let this decision slip.
Silverwood revealed Buttler would be Stokes’s vice-captain, which allowed the sleuths in the press corps to deduce he would also be entrusted with the gloves.
The coach was in upbeat mood about the strength of his 30-man squad, their high level of fitness and their work rate in training. And he is confident about the capabilities of his new captain. “I think he will do a great job. He is a talisman, isn’t he? He leads from the front anyway. He is conscious of the people around him as well so I think he will do a great job in Joe Root’s absence.”
Asked how Stokes will go about his business Silverwood replied with a smile: “We will find out won’t we? We know he has got an aggressive nature but equally there is a good cricket brain in there as well. I think he will be quite vocal about what moves he is making out there.
“I’m looking forward to working with him from a coaching point of view. I will extend him the same courtesies I do Rooty. He will have a lot of say in what is going on and he will play a big part in giving his opinions across selection as well.”
Silverwood is not bothered by Stokes’s lack of experience as a captain. “He’s been Rooty’s right-hand man for a while now. I know Rooty does turn to him a lot. He’s been involved in a lot of talks we have behind the scenes.”
Root will not take part in the practice match that starts on Wednesday. He will train and then head north for the birth of his second child before returning to the team and the captaincy for the second Test at Old Trafford on 16 July.
Silverwood expects the three-day game with mixed up teams to be competitive while allowing most of the squad to participate, which is a tough balancing act. After the game the squad will be reduced from 30 to about 22 players.
Team Stokes (13): Sibley, Jennings, Crawley, Bairstow, Stokes, Foakes, Moeen, Gregory C Overton, Leach, Stone, Anderson, Saqib Mahmood.
Team Buttler (14): Burns, Bracey, Denly, Lawrence, Pope, Buttler, Curran, Woakes, Bess, Wood, Archer, Broad, Parkinson, Robinson