James Anderson to remain Test vice-captain despite Stokes' return
What's the news?
England's senior new ball bowler James Anderson has been retained as the Test vice-captain despite the return of Ben Stokes into the fold for the longest format.
With Stokes yet to attain full clearance on the matter of affray for which he was charged in September last year, England have preferred to keep Anderson as the deputy to Joe Root. "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.”
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With the controversial all-rounder Stokes eliminated from the Ashes in Australia last winter, Anderson was given the charge to be the vice-captain of the side as England still awaited a result on the Stokes story. Though he has pleaded not guilty for an assault on a young man outside a nightclub in Bristol, a pending trial whose date has been fixed for August 6, will see him miss the Lord's Test against India during the home summer in 2018.
Stokes' international return took place on the ongoing tour of New Zealand itself, where he made a comeback into the England XI during the first ODI at Hamilton, going on to play all five matches in the series which England won 3-2.
The heart of the matter
The fact that he will now be required to lead the side lest an injury or illness plights Root, the 35-year-old Anderson would be ready to advice youngsters and guide them wherever he can. “Certainly if Joe needs help on the field, I'm there for him. 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,” said Anderson of his role as the vice-captain.
The first Test between New Zealand and England begins on March 22 at Auckland – that will be the first day-night affair to be played in the country – with the second and final match starting on March 30 at Christchurch.
The England management's decision to stick with Anderson is understandable not only because he is a veteran in the dressing room, but also because with Stokes yet to be completely free from the charges levelled against him. It was only sensible that they choose an option which is sure to serve them at least in the medium-term.