BEN STOKES believes the England captaincy has made Joe Root into an even better player as he hailed the Yorkshireman as arguably the world’s best batsman.
Root equalled the record of South Africa’s AB de Villiers for scoring a half-century in 12 successive Tests on the opening day of the Headingley game against the West Indies.
Stokes, who crowned the day with his sixth Test hundred, said that Root’s achievement proved that the burdens of leadership are in no way diminishing his run-scoring prowess.
“He’s one hell of a player,” said Stokes. “Has been for a long time now. The captaincy hasn’t affected his run-scoring ability whatsoever. If anything, it’s probably made him into a better player, if that was possible.
“There’s guys around the world who are known as the best players, and we’ve got one of them (in Root), if not the best.
“The records that he’s managed to break, the runs that he’s scoring, is showing why he is (such a good player).
Root hit 59 from 98 balls with nine fours as England scored 258 after winning the toss, West Indies replying with 19-1.
Since replacing Alastair Cook as Test captain, the 26-year-old has scored 656 runs in 10 innings at an average of 65.6, with two hundreds and four fifties.
Stokes is having a fine season himself with the bat; this was his second Test century of the summer after his 112 against South Africa at the Oval.
“I found it quite hard to start with,” he said. “It took me awhile to get off the mark, and I had to change my normal approach; I used the depth of the crease more than I usually do and tried to put them off their game-plan.
He’s one hell of a player. There’s guys around the world who are known as the best players, and we’ve got one of them (in Root), if not the best.England’s Ben Stokes
“I thought their seam bowling unit bowled a lot better than they did at Edgbaston, and they made it hard work.”
Stokes believes it is too soon to say which team is in front.
“We said in the dressing room that it probably wasn’t one of our best days with the bat,” he added.
“We won’t know if it’s a good score until the West Indies innings has finished.”
West Indies pace bowler Kemar Roach said: “It was a good day for us. The guys stuck at the task and we have a point to prove in this Test.”