Joe Root has the support of everyone in the England dressing room when it comes to his Test captaincy, Ben Stokes has insisted.
Questions over Root’s position have resurfaced in the wake of the chastening defeat to New Zealand in the first Test at Mount Maunganui on Monday.
England were beaten by an innings and 65 runs, with Root contributing just 13 as he dropped out of the top 10 of the ICC’s Test batting rankings.
Stokes, however, says there is no better candidate for the role and believes pinning the blame for England’s struggles on the captain alone is unfair.
“Joe knows that he’s got the backing of everybody in the changing room: players, backroom staff and management,” said the all-rounder, according to Cricinfo. “That’s the main thing that counts for us as players in a very tightknit group. He knows that everybody in that changing room 100 per cent backs him, as I do.
“The pressures of being England Test captain is huge. It can be one of the most criticised jobs in England at times. And sometimes that criticism is unfair, I would say. There are 11 guys that contribute to a win or loss. It doesn’t all fall on the captain.
“We put our hands up as players when we don’t perform. But, unfortunately, Joe cops most of that [criticism]. But as a playing group, we stick together, and we hold our hands up together as well.
“He’s fine. He’s Joe Root. He is England captain and there’s no one else to do it.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 25, 2019
The opening Test was marred by racist abuse that England bowler Jofra Archer revealed he suffered from a spectator.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) launched an investigation and captain Kane Williamson promised to apologise in person after Archer said he heard racist insults from a member of the crowd.
Stokes, who has New Zealand and Maori heritage, described the incident as “pretty horrific” but said the country was better represented by those who offered their support towards Archer.
“I’m obviously very proud of my heritage and where I’m from,” Stokes said. “I’ll always respect that. The tattoo on my arm just signifies where the family comes from.
“Coming back to New Zealand, it’s not just a cricket tour for me. It’s also a great time to be able to catch up with family that I don’t get to see that often. I came out a week before the Test guys to stay with my mum and dad, which was awesome. I got to see brothers, sisters, cousins and everything like that. Every time I manage to come back it’s really good.
“It wasn’t a nice way to end the Test match and it’s a shame because that doesn’t represent what New Zealand is about as a country whatsoever. New Zealand is more accurately represented by how much support Jofra has had, not just from the New Zealand cricket team, but New Zealand in general after that incident.
“That’s the main thing for us now: making Jofra aware that we’ve got his back. It was a pretty horrific incident and something that shouldn’t happen in sport or in the world in general in 2019.”