Ben Stokes: England Test captain Joe Root backed by players, says all-rounder

Joe Root and Ben Stokes

England lost the first Test against New Zealand by an innings and 65 runs

Test captain Joe Root is “England’s best player” and has the “full support” of his team-mates, says all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Root, 28, has been criticised after the tourists’ defeat by New Zealand in the opening match of their two-Test series.

He made two and 11 at the Bay Oval and has dropped out of the top 10 of the Test batting rankings for the first time since August 2014.

“We stick together and we hold our hands up together,” said Stokes.

Root’s average in 2019 is 27.40 from 10 Tests, compared with 47.35 over his career as a whole.

Since succeeding Alastair Cook as Test captain in 2017, the Yorkshire batsman’s average has fallen from 52.80 to 39.70.

“He is England’s best player and he knows he has got the full support of us in the changing room,” added 28-year-old Stokes.

“The pressures of being England Test captain are huge. It can be one of the most criticised jobs in England at times – sometimes unfairly, I would say.

“There are 11 guys out on the field in a game who contribute to a win or loss. It doesn’t all fall on the captain.”

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Stokes also revealed how England coach Chris Silverwood sought his advice about whether he should fly home following a family bereavement.

The second Test at Seddon Park starts on Thursday (22:00 GMT) and Silverwood will leave after day two, with assistants Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood, along with Root, taking over for the remainder of the tour.

“Family always comes first, no matter where you are in the world or what situation the team finds itself in,” said Stokes.

“He asked my opinion and I said: ‘From my point of view, you need to get yourself back home.’

“We do all the tactical analysis so, once we get going, the onus will be on the players. Chris going home won’t be a distraction to us.”

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England in New Zealand: Joe Root denies he’s under pressure after losing first Test