Joe Root will return to batting at number four for England, captain Ben Stokes has confirmed.
Root has recently performed well in the role in the tour of the West Indies, finishing as England’s leading scorer with 289 runs across his six innings, including two hundreds. But in his career as a whole he has tended to have greater joy at four, averaging 51.27, compared to 39.67 at three.
Stokes has also confirmed his own move from No 5 to 6, saying: “I’ve already spoken with Joe; I’ve asked him to go back to four and I’m going to be at six.
“Wherever Joe bats he gets runs, but his best position is at four. Joe will probably be averaging 90 now instead of 60 [Root’s average in 2021], so it will be good.
“I feel that him at four and me at six gives us a bit of experience in that gap. So you can obviously see where the places are opening up for people to put their hands up, it’s three and five.”
Followers of live cricket commentary will be aware that Stokes marked his return to action with a remarkable 64-ball hundred for Durham on Friday, bringing up his century with five consecutive sixes.
But as he prepares to undergo a new role, Stokes says he won’t just focus on the performance of his own team as he explained: “I now feel I have to follow a lot more of the county games now to see who is scoring runs rather than just checking the Durham score.”
The 30-year-old allrounder did also confirm that he plans to sit out some of England’s upcoming games this summer due to the demands of a hectic schedule that sees a three-match ODI series in the Netherlands squeezed in between the second and third New Zealand Tests next month.
“The schedule definitely is something that needs looking at,” he said. “It is ridiculous the amount of cricket that is expected of people.
“The fact there is a Test match and one-day series overlapping sums it up. It really needs looking at from a workload point of view.
“I don’t want to miss England matches, I want to play as much as I can for England.
“In an ideal world you would have a schedule that allows you to play everything, but unfortunately it is not possible and my number-one priority is Test cricket at the moment, so I have to prioritise that over white ball.”