BEN STOKES will captain England for the first time in next week’s opening Test against the West Indies, with regular skipper Joe Root taking time out to attend the birth of his second child.
Root’s wife Carrie is due to give birth later this week and, with the strict protocols in place to ensure the series takes place in a ‘bio-secure’ environment, he will need to be isolated from the group for at least a week on his return from hospital.
That means Stokes will be the man to lead the team out at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday, having never before taken the reins in first-class cricket.
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who serves as vice-captain to Eoin Morgan in the limited-overs side and has also been Root’s deputy in the past, will be Stokes’ second-in-command.
Stokes and Buttler will both be involved in a three-day internal match that begins in Southampton on Wednesday morning, with Root heading north for Sheffield to link up with his family.
A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: ‘England Test captain Joe Root will leave the training camp at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday afternoon to be with his wife, Carrie, who is expecting their second child later this week.
‘He will miss England’s three-day intra-squad warm-up match starting tomorrow and the #raisethebat first Test against West Indies commencing on Wednesday, July 8, at the Ageas Bowl.
‘Root will commence a seven-day self-isolation period at home once he leaves hospital with his family. He will join up with the England squad ahead of the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford on Monday, July 13.
‘Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has been Root’s Test vice-captain since his appointment last July, will captain the side for the first time in Southampton. Lancashire’s Jos Buttler will assume vice-captaincy duties.’