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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Joe Root on Ben Stokes: ‘I just want my friend to be okay’


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England captain recognises allrounder is irreplaceable as first Test looms

Joe Root has admitted that the absence of Ben Stokes leaves a huge hole at the heart of England’s team, but insists his first consideration is for the well-being of his friend.

Stokes has taken a break from the sport to focus on his mental well-being. While there has been no time-frame placed on his return, he is not currently expected to appear at any point in the LV= Insurance Test series against India. Quite apart from the non-physical issues, there is also a concern that the finger Stokes broke earlier this year could require a further operation.

But although Root, the England captain, is candid about the enormity of the loss that Stokes’ absence represents, he is clear that there are more important things in life. And he is adamant that Stokes, who at times over the last few years has carried this England team, has earned the fulsome support of everyone involved in the England set-up.

“From my point of view, I just want my friend to be okay,” Root said from Trent Bridge on Monday. “Anyone who knows Ben knows he always puts other people first. Now is an opportunity for him to put himself first, to take time to look after himself and get to a good place again.

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