Ben Stokes hopes the ups and downs of his England career will help make him a successful Test captain, and says he will not try to be like past great allrounders Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff.
Stokes was announced as Joe Root’s successor last week and will begin his reign against New Zealand at Lord’s next month.
It marks one of the proudest points in the allrounder’s journey, during which he has produced some unforgettable performances and endured some major challenges.
He was arrested after a late night incident in Bristol in September 2017 and went on to miss an Ashes tour that winter before being cleared on a charge off affray, bouncing back to inspire England’s World Cup win in 2019.
Asked how his experiences had changed him over the course of his journey, Stokes told BBC Sport: “There’s a lot of things that I’ve gone through since I became a professional cricketer, and those experiences I feel are positive in this new role that I’ve got.
“I’ve been through a lot of goods and have been through a lot of bads and I feel like I can relate to both sides of what this sporting life can throw at you.
“I hope that now because I’m England captain, I’m not seen as a different person to the people who I’ve played with. I feel as if I’ve always been someone who anybody can come and speak to.
“I see everything that I’ve gone through as a positive and you can relate to people if that is good or bad. I don’t see anything that I’ve gone through as a negative. If anything, I see it as a way that I can always try and help them.”
Stokes’ credentials as a dressing room leader have never been in doubt, but as an all-action allrounder he faces a mighty workload taking on the captain’s blazer.
Botham and Flintoff, the two players he has most frequently been likened to since he burst onto the scene, both failed to make the grade as skipper but Stokes is not concerned about following in their footsteps.
“I’ve had to deal with comparisons to Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham since I was 18 or 19. And I’ve always said I’m not trying to be either of them, I’m just Ben Stokes,” he said.
“It’s naive and stupid to think that now, because I’m captain, my way is the only way and no-one else has a voice or an input.
“Because I feel that’s one thing that a leader needs to do, always make sure that other people around them feel valued and have a voice.”
On the futures of record wicket-taker James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were omitted from the recent tour of the West Indies, Stokes added: “If they are fit they are up for selection because they are the two best bowlers in England.
“They are two greats of the game and they are part of the best XI. Pretty simple.”