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England v New Zealand: You have to be impressed with what you see from Ben Stokes the captain

NASSER HUSSAIN: You must be impressed by what you see of Ben Stokes the captain…who errs on the side of positive but not reckless cricket, he supports the likes of Jack Leach and has instilled an attacking mentality in England

  • Ben Stokes had no real experience with captaincy at the red ball before the series
  • But looking at England it’s clear who’s leading them against New Zealand
  • Stokes has good body language as a leader and he’s always half way chatting
  • He strikes me as someone who would always think about the game

It’s still early days, but as Ben Stokes had no real experience of captaining the red ball before this series against New Zealand, you should be impressed with what you see.

When you look at this side of England, it’s obvious who’s leading the team. People will ask, “Don’t you always get that?” No, I don’t think you do.

Sometimes it can be captain’s armband by committee, sometimes there’s a lot of outside input to a captain but at this point it’s clear who is wearing the armband. Stokes has good body language as a leader and he is always halfway through chatting and flattering with his bowler.

It's early days but you should be impressed by what you see of Ben Stokes as captain

It’s still early, but you should be impressed by what you see of Ben Stokes as captain

Stokes has good body language and is always half way chatting with his bowler

Stokes has good body language and is always half way chatting with his bowler

And he supports people. Yesterday in the first hour he went with Jack Leach’s left arm spin and was rewarded. Leach was under a bit of pressure, but both here and in Nottingham, where he was also introduced early in the attack, I have noticed that Stokes is constantly behind him.

I also like the way he brings out field players for his spinner. The last game, Leach took Tom Blundell out by bringing in a man halfway through.

Then, for tea yesterday, although it ended up being a freak layoff, if he hadn’t changed the long-on and invited the chance to hit him over the top, Henry Nicholls wouldn’t have gone for the extended shot that got him. wicket cost.

The captaincy tends to follow your personality and Stokes strays to the side of positive, attacking but not reckless cricket. That’s how he is as a batter.

I have noticed that Stokes (right) is constantly behind the left arm spinner Jack Leach (left)

I have noticed that Stokes (right) is constantly behind the left arm spinner Jack Leach (left)

He has instilled an attacking mentality in England and although this is the start of his captaincy career you wouldn’t recognize it if you look. He strikes me as someone who, even if he wasn’t captain, would always think about the game. Do we need that man back? Should the catchers stay indoors?

He’s had Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson buy longer lengths, give them a mid-off and mid-on, and move fielders straighter to provide a little cover when they’re ridden for four.

You will never completely change two world class bowlers like those two because they have been so successful at doing things their way and will occasionally switch back to their default setting as masters of their craft.

But they’re chasing wickets more and that’s partly because Stokes encourages them to do so by giving them the field settings necessary to do so.

Henry Nicholls wouldn't have gone for the extended shot that cost him his wicket if Stokes hadn't been around for long

Henry Nicholls wouldn’t have gone for the extended shot that cost him his wicket if Stokes hadn’t been around for long

There were positive signs that his leadership was spreading to others as well: Alex Lees came in this summer with a reputation for being a bit of a blocker, but was encouraged to return to his naturally more aggressive childhood game since the captaincy.

Leach showed with two for 75 from 30 overs that he can play a tenacious role as a frontline spinner. There was talk of the previous Test of Leach not having the drop and drift required by a top class exponent of the art.

But Leach’s firing of Will Young was a classic example of getting that drop and drift, and the batter getting in his way and unable to get to the ball. He cheated his opponent a bit in the air and it was a good sign that he can express a threat – a few turned but not many – while playing that tenacious role.

Stokes didn’t bowl himself yesterday, but if things went so well and you’ve had a knee problem, why risk a long-term injury that could leave you on the sidelines?

He's had Stuart Broad buy a longer length and give him a mid-off and mid-on

He has had Stuart Broad buy a longer length and gives him a mid-off and mid-on

If the score was 200 for four, we might have seen him have a bowl because he doesn’t want to ask people to do things he isn’t willing to do himself.

If you have one sailor on his Jamie Overton debut, and another Stuart Broad, who is now 36, you don’t want to run them into the ground, so he used Leach and Joe Root, who is underrated as a bowler. , Lake.

The challenge will be to maintain the positive approach when the team is under pressure, having been knocked out for a score below 150, as in the first game of this series at Lord’s.

But so far so good with this new regime and there are a lot of good things about the way Stokes is handling the team.

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