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Ben Stokes: ‘Brave’ Joe Root is feeling like a teenager again after matching-winning ton in first Test

Joe Root stood down from the England Test captaincy in April and scored a match-winning century in Ben Stokes’ first game in charge

Ben Stokes has praised Joe Root for his match-winning contribution to England’s win over New Zealand at Lord’s and his “brave” reflection on his time as captain.

Speaking to Sky Sports after his magnificent, unbeaten 115 in England’s five-wicket victory in the LV= Insurance series opener, Root revealed that the captaincy had begun to have an “unhealthy effect” on him before he stood down from the role in April.

Stokes, who was Root’s vice-captain during his time in charge and has now taken over as skipper, can see the weight lifted from Root’s shoulders and feels he’ll soon be back playing pranks on the dressing room on top of scoring runs.

Joe Root gives his reaction after leading England to victory with a Test century and surpassing 10,000 Test career runs. He also reflects on a tough couple of years as captain.

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Joe Root gives his reaction after leading England to victory with a Test century and surpassing 10,000 Test career runs. He also reflects on a tough couple of years as captain.

Joe Root gives his reaction after leading England to victory with a Test century and surpassing 10,000 Test career runs. He also reflects on a tough couple of years as captain.

Ahead of the second Test at Trent Bridge – live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Friday – Stokes told reporters: “I went through that whole ride with Joe, especially over the last two years. We had some private conversations on tours away around that kind of stuff.

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“I’m sure everybody knows, being England captain is more than just what you do out on the field. You can end up taking it home and it can affect your personal situation – which Joe was very brave to say.

“This week, without that added pressure of being captain, it was almost like Joe was 18 again. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be long till he’s snipping people’s socks again.

“It’s great to see Joe the way that he is. It’s great that he doesn’t have that mountain of added pressure of being captain on his shoulders.

“And the one thing Joe always does is score runs.”

Check out the best bits from Joe Root's century which not only helped England beat New Zealand in the first Test at Lord's, but also saw Root surpass 10,000 career Test runs.

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Check out the best bits from Joe Root’s century which not only helped England beat New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s, but also saw Root surpass 10,000 career Test runs.

Check out the best bits from Joe Root’s century which not only helped England beat New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s, but also saw Root surpass 10,000 career Test runs.

Having secured a victory in his and new head coach Brendon McCullum’s first game in charge, Stokes could now add a first Test series triumph as skipper to his CV should England follow up with another win at Trent Bridge.

But Stokes isn’t getting ahead of himself, and knows New Zealand, the reigning World Test Champions, are “never an easy ride”.

“It’s great to come in here with the confidence of winning the first game of the summer, but we’ve got to obviously park that this week, it’s a new game,” Stokes said.

“We know that every time we go up against New Zealand it’s never an easy ride, the game always tends to go down to the wire. No team really seems to get too far ahead of the other.

Ben Stokes was pleased with England's first Test win over New Zealand, especially with the recent changes around the team.

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Ben Stokes was pleased with England’s first Test win over New Zealand, especially with the recent changes around the team.

Ben Stokes was pleased with England’s first Test win over New Zealand, especially with the recent changes around the team.

“We know we’re going to be in for another tough week against them. They are a very tough team to play against; conditions in England suit our bowling attack just as much it suits their bowling attack.”

He added: “First time out winning a series would obviously be good.

“It’s going to be a long road with the way that we have changed mindset. I know there’s going to be some ups and some downs.

“We’re on a big up after winning last week, but we’ve just got to try and take everything as it comes, because who knows what this week will have in store for us.”

England unchanged | Leach passed fit, Stokes ‘fine’ to bowl

England have named an unchanged XI for the second Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge, with Jack Leach passed fit after concussion and Stokes declaring he’s “fine” to bowl.

Ben Stokes says it was a 'straightforward' decision to name an unchanged team for the second Test against New Zealand after Jack Leach was passed fit to play following concussion.

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Ben Stokes says it was a ‘straightforward’ decision to name an unchanged team for the second Test against New Zealand after Jack Leach was passed fit to play following concussion.

Ben Stokes says it was a ‘straightforward’ decision to name an unchanged team for the second Test against New Zealand after Jack Leach was passed fit to play following concussion.

Left-arm spinner Leach was withdrawn six overs into the first Test at Lord’s after taking a heavy fall on the boundary. His mandatory seven-day rest period ended on Thursday and he took a full part in England’s training session.

Stokes, who appeared to tweak his side while bowling in practice on Wednesday, has also guaranteed his fitness for the Trent Bridge Test, confirming he will play a role with both bat and ball.

“All good this morning,” Stokes said when asked about his fitness on Thursday. “Just a bit stiff.”

He added it was more a precautionary measure than anything, telling Sky Sports: “It’s probably just being more sensible around training and stuff like that.

“Because, obviously, once you get out there and cross that line, you want to do everything you can to help win a game for England.”

As for Leach, Stokes described his recall to the XI as a “straightforward” decision, once he had proven his fitness.

“It was pretty unfortunate what happened to Leachy last week at Lord’s, but he has pulled up well this week and it was pretty straightforward once we got the good news he was fit to play,” he said.

Williamson takes ‘positives’ from Lord’s; Nicholls could return

New Zealand will be forced into at least one change, with seam-bowling all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme ruled out of the rest of the series with a heel injury he sustained on the third day at Lord’s.

Sky Sports News' James Cole has the latest news from the New Zealand camp as they prepare for the second Test against England.

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Sky Sports News’ James Cole has the latest news from the New Zealand camp as they prepare for the second Test against England.

Sky Sports News’ James Cole has the latest news from the New Zealand camp as they prepare for the second Test against England.

Middle-order batter Henry Nicholls could return for the Black Caps, though, after missing the first Test due to Covid-19.

New Zealand’s top four – Will Young, Tom Latham, captain Kane Williamson and Devon Conway – each failed to pass 15 in either innings at Lord’s, with Williamson saying: “As a side and as individuals, we need to commit to our jobs as best we can and make as big a contribution as we can.

On the Test as a whole, Williamson added: “It was a really good game of cricket that could have gone either way so for us it’s about reflecting on those positives.

“We know we are up against a strong England side who have a well-balanced squad. We want to improve on our performance. You want to win every game you play but ultimately it is about improving as a side.”

Watch the second LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand, at Trent Bridge, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Friday.



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