Ben Stokes has shot down the suggestion that Joe Root needs an Ashes win to be classed as one of England ‘great’ Test match captains.
Root’s side produced a near perfect all-round display at Headingley last week to square their LV= Insurance Test Series with India at 1-1, ahead of the fourth test at The Oval which starts on Thursday.
Not only did Root’s record-breaking form with the bat continue with a knock of 121 taking him to 1398 Test runs in the calendar year, but the result marked his 27th win as captain, going past the previous English Test record of 26 set by Michael Vaughan.
However, under his tenure England lost the Ashes 4-0 out in Australia in 2017/18, and then failed to regain them at home in 2019 after the series ended 2-2.
It prompted the Sky Sports Cricket twitter account to ask on Sunday: “Does Joe Root need to win an Ashes series to be classed as one of England’s ‘great’ Test captains?”
Stokes, who is currently taking a break from all forms of cricket due to mental health issues, tweeted a blunt reply.
“Already is the greatest. Most wins as English Test Captain. End of.”
The comment prompted some fierce debate, with many fans divided in their opinions as they replied to the 30-year-old.
“Root is getting results without having the breadth of world class talent that some of his predecessors could call upon,” wrote one supporter.
“Disagree,” replied another.
“Needs the Ashes in his pocket or he will live – as a captain (not a batsman) – in the shadow of Brearley, Gower and others.”
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Indeed, a number of fans suggested it’s his batting prowess, and not his captaincy, that is cementing his legacy: “He is, without doubt, an all time great player,” said one.
“I also think he’s a fine example of a sportsman, but not as good a captain as Vaughan or Strauss.”
The availability of Stokes could be pivotal to Root’s hopes of regaining the Ashes down under this winter, with the Durham man having missed the last tour there after being charged with affray. He was later acquitted in court.
Root, 30, took charge in 2017 and has led England in 55 Tests.
His mentor and fellow Yorkshireman Vaughan captained in 51 matches between 2003 and 2008, though suffered only 11 losses, to Root’s 20.