Ben Stokes has been stripped of the England vice-captaincy for the Test series against New Zealand with James Anderson retaining the role he took on during the Ashes. Though the appointment is currently being made on a series-by-series basis it seems likely that Anderson will keep the job at least until the conclusion of Stokes’ court case.
Stokes’ trial date, after his charge of affray to which he has pleaded not guilty following the incident in Bristol last September, has been set for August 6 and is expected to last between five and seven days, meaning the allrounder will miss the Lord’s Test against India. Having removed the vice-captaincy from him in the current situation it is very unlikely he will be considered again until the outcome of the legal case is known and also the Cricket Disciplinary Commission process that will follow.
Anderson took over the role for the Ashes after Stokes was removed from the squad as he awaited charging following his arrest outside Mbargo nightclub in Bristol on September 25. Stokes returned to action in the one-day series against New Zealand, but having him one step away from captaining England with an ongoing legal case was a situation the ECB needed to avoid. With Stokes not being in Australia, and Jos Buttler the vice-captain to Eoin Morgan in the one-day side, this was the first time a decision needed to be made by Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss with Stokes present.
Last week, Bayliss praised Anderson’s impact in the position during the Ashes where he was the stand-out England bowler and he is also understood to have made a good impression behind the scenes on what was a difficult tour. Given his seniority it was a logical choice for him to continue and he can now also expect to have the job against Pakistan and India in the summer.
“I’m delighted Joe has asked me to do it again for this series,” Anderson told the BBC. “It doesn’t change my role in the team a huge amount. I see myself as a senior player and I’m there for people if they need advice. Certainly if Joe needs help on the field, I’m there for him.”
Anderson got a taste of being one step away from the captaincy on the final day of the Ashes when Root was taken ill and could not conduct the post-match interviews (England were only batting so Anderson was not needed to lead in the field) but he sees a collection of senior players as being important to offering advice.
“It’s a big group effort when we go on the field, so it’s important that we get that right,” he said. “Again in the dressing-room, it’s trying to get people relaxed and ready to play Test cricket.
“It’s not just my job; it’s Joe’s, Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad have plenty of experience, and the coaches as well who have been around the block. It’s our job to help out where we can and try to help this team progress.”
This series against New Zealand will see England trying to correct a horrendous run away from home which has seen them lose nine of their last 12 Tests overseas. They avoided another Ashes whitewash due to a draw on a docile Melbourne pitch, but Anderson believes that England weren’t as poor as the 4-0 scoreline suggests.
“I don’t think we were far away,” he said. “I know the scoreline says 4-0, and it looks like we got thrashed. But in each Test match I don’t think we were that far away.
“We got ourselves into games at certain times, and it was a bad half-hour or an hour here and there that really cost us the games we lost. I think that’s the learning curve for us.”