Root averages 51.27 at four, almost 12 runs higher than his mark at first drop – despite scoring two centuries in six innings against West Indies. He shuttled up and down at various points during his captaincy, but Stokes revealed that he had already spoken to Root about his plans for the batting order as England seek to revive their fortunes in the longest format.
“I’ve already spoken with Joe. I’ve asked him to go back to four and I’m going to be at six,” Stokes said. “Wherever Joe bats he gets runs, but his best position is at four. Joe will probably be averaging 90 now instead of 60 [Root’s average in 2021], so it’ll be good.
“I feel him at four and me at six gives us a bit of experience in that gap. So you can obviously see where the places are opening up for people to put their hands up: it’s three and five.
“I now feel I have to follow a lot more of the county games now to see who is scoring runs rather than just checking the Durham score.”
On the bowling front, Stokes suggested that England had “exciting” options, and that he intended for the best XI to be selected at all times. It has already been confirmed that James Anderson and Stuart Broad will return to contention after missing the Caribbean tour, while Ollie Robinson made a wicket-taking return for Sussex this week.
Sam Curran has also been eased back into first-team action for Surrey, but England’s quicker options, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone remain in the treatment room.
“You look at the players who aren’t available through injury – Wood, Archer, Stone, Curran – they’d all be seriously fighting for places,” Stokes said. “Then you place them among Broady, Jimmy, Robbo, Woakesy … it’s so exciting to think about the team we could put out there if we don’t have any injuries. Unfortunately we do. We just have to pick the best XI we have to choose from and I’ll always make sure we do that.”
“The schedule definitely is something that needs looking at. It is ridiculous the amount of cricket that is expected of people,” he said. “The fact there is a Test match and one-day series overlapping sums it up. It really needs looking at from a workload point of view.
“I don’t want to miss England matches, I want to play as much as I can for England. In an ideal world you would have a schedule that allows you to play everything, but unfortunately it is not possible and my number-one priority is Test cricket at the moment, so I have to prioritise that over white ball.”