Ben Stokes should be the 'obvious one' to replace Joe Root: Atherton

London, April 16 (IANS) Former England skipper Michael Atherton has named all-rounder Ben Stokes as the "obvious" choice to replace Joe Root, who stepped down as Test captain on Friday following humiliating losses in the Ashes and the three-Test series against the West Indies recently.
 
Ben Stokes should be the 'obvious one' to replace Joe Root: Atherton

London, April 16 (IANS) Former England skipper Michael Atherton has named all-rounder Ben Stokes as the "obvious" choice to replace Joe Root, who stepped down as Test captain on Friday following humiliating losses in the Ashes and the three-Test series against the West Indies recently.

The England great also said that the 30-year-old Stokes will feel "a lot easier" about leading the Test side as Root had stepped down of his own accord, and the two enjoy a cordial relationship.

"There aren't many (choices). You've got to pick someone worth their place in the side. The days are long gone where you could have a Mike Brearley figure, someone who wouldn't necessarily be the first choice. Because of the scrutiny, you've got to be worth your place in the side," said Atherton on Sky Sports.

"Ben Stokes is the obvious one, and what helps is that Joe Root has stepped down of his own accord. Ben Stokes is very loyal to Joe (Root) and he will feel a lot easier about taking the job if offered given that Root stepped down of his own accord."

Stokes is being widely seen as Root's replacement as he is guaranteed of a place in the team if fit and is currently the vice-captain of the Test side.

The 54-year-old Atherton, who played 115 Tests -- 54 as captain between 1993 and 2001 -- also felt that Root should have relinquished captaincy after the disastrous Ashes series in Australia.

"I'm not surprised. It had got to a stage at the end of the Ashes, even before the West Indies tour, where it was pretty clear change was needed. There comes a moment in every England captain's life where you realise you've given it all and you can't do anymore. I think there was a particular moment in the Grenada Test (third Test v West Indies) where Ben Foakes was run out, the England team were sliding out and the cameras panned in on Joe Root on the England balcony with a look of despair and that realisation came to him he should really have stepped down at the end of the Ashes given how that tour had gone," said Atherton.

"They (England and Wales Cricket Board) tried to insulate his captaincy by getting rid of the coach Chris Silverwood and managing director and leaving some senior players (for the West Indies Test tour), but I think it was pretty evident Joe had come to the end of the road."

--IANS

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