Tim Paine has revealed he used to sit on the couch in tears as the Australia Test captain suffered from mental health issues earlier in his career.

Paine required seven operations after breaking his finger back in 2010, but earned an Australia recall seven years later and took over as skipper in 2018.

The 35-year-old was on the verge of quitting when he was out of the Tasmania team in 2017.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Paine has opened up on the struggles he has endured over the years and the doubts he had when he returned to the highest level.

He told the Bounce Back podcast: "When I started training and playing again I wasn't too bad, until I started to face guys who bowled a lot quicker.

"And they'd be running in and instead of thinking about hitting the ball, I was thinking: 'Geez I hope he doesn't hit me on the finger'.

"From there it was just a downward spiral. I lost absolutely all confidence. I didn't tell anyone about it. The truth is, one, I was scared of getting hit and two, I just didn’t know what I was going to do."

Paine revealed he did not let it be known he was struggling.

“I didn't sleep, I didn't eat. I was so nervous before games, I was horrible to live with," he added.

"I was pretty ordinary to my partner, who is now my wife [Bonnie]. I was always angry and took out that I wasn't doing well on other people.

"I was embarrassed at what I had become. No one knew I was struggling, not my mates, not my partner. There were times when she was at work and I'd sit on the couch crying. It was weird and it was painful."

Paine said talking to a sports psychologist at Cricket Tasmania helped him to get his career back on track.

"It was the first time I actually told anyone what was going on, but I remember walking out of that room and instantly feeling better, that I had let someone in and that was the first step to dealing with, admitting I needed help," he said.

He also found that saying what was on his mind helped him to overcome self-doubt when he was recalled for the 2017-18 Ashes series.

"It went from an amazing feeling ... and then I thought that's not good," he said.

"I'm going to have to bat in front of people and there are going to be millions of people watching. And for three or four days after I thought I don't want to do this.

"Again, spoke to some people and got that stuff off my chest and I thought bugger it, I'll just make the most of it ... I'm going to enjoy it."

England suffered a late collapse in Southampton to close day four on 284-8 – giving them a lead of 170 over West Indies – to leave the first Test delicately poised. 

West Indies racked up a 114-run first innings lead against England to take control of the first Test at the Rose Bowl on day three.

Kraigg Brathwaite (65) and Shane Dowrich (61) led the way for the tourists, who benefitted from valuable contributions all the way down the order as they reached 318 all out on Friday.

That was in stark contrast to England's efforts as they were skittled for 204, although openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley dug in to negotiate a tricky evening stint and reach stumps at 15-0.

Having made the most of bowling at England under leaden skies on Thursday, West Indies capitalised on the clouds parting to steadily compile a position of strength.

Denied helpful overhead conditions, the home attack were confronted by a fairly benign surface – one that meant Jofra Archer being denied an lbw verdict against Shai Hope due to overstepping was an error they could ill afford.

That moment in itself did not prove too costly as Hope was caught at slip by Ben Stokes for 16 after swiping at Dom Bess, the off-spinner who bowled tidily and also dismissed Jermaine Blackwood to claim 2-51.

But Archer would end the innings wicketless, with stand-in skipper Stokes (4-49) and James Anderson (3-62) sharing seven scalps.

Brathwaite could not turn his half-century into something more substantial, as he shuffled across to be trapped in front by Stokes, while Shamarh Brooks drove delightfully before edging Anderson behind to Jos Buttler for 39.

Roston Chase took on the anchor role – in stark contrast to Blackwood's devil-may-care efforts – and was trapped on the crease by Anderson when three shy of a richly deserved fifty.

Stokes removed opposite number Jason Holder cheaply and bowled Alzarri Joseph for a breezy 18, with Shannon Gabriel falling in similar fashion to Mark Wood.

Dowrich, who punished the England pacemen whenever they erred in line or length, was the penultimate man to fall, edging Stokes through to Buttler.

Gabriel, Holder and Kemar Roach found Burns and Sibley to be in resilient mood, although England will hope their hard yards have just begun.

 

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF FOR BRATHWAITE

Brathwaite had not passed 50 in 21 Test innings heading into the series opener, meaning the prospect of skilled seam attack in English conditions with a Dukes ball might have filled him with dread. If it did, it certainly did not show, as he masterfully laid a platform. The 27-year-old slightly opening his stance, allowing him to access the on-side and confidently play the in-swinger, looks a shrewd adjustment.

TOIL AND LITTLE REWARD FOR ENGLAND QUICKS

Historically, this rivalry has been dominated by West Indies pacemen, so there was obvious excitement around England fielding two men capable of frequently hitting 90 miles per hour and beyond. However, Wood and Archer turned in combined figures of 1-135. The pair will surely fire in tandem at Test level soon – maybe even in the second innings here – but their struggles jarred as a brooding Stuart Broad watched on from the sidelines.

MOMENT OF THE DAY – ANDERSON HANGS ON TO REMOVE CAVALIER BLACKWOOD

West Indies day was a tale of patience and steady accumulation, very much classic Test cricket. The match situation encouraged Blackwood to try and take the action away from England, but his approach sat in hilarious contrast to his more measured team-mates. It felt like the 28-year-old played several expansive attacking shots for each of the 12 runs he ended up scoring, although Anderson's grab at mid-off to end a bizarre and entertaining interlude was as sharp as they come.

England paceman Stuart Broad is "frustrated, angry and gutted" after missing out on selection for the first Test against West Indies at the Rose Bowl.

Broad was England's leading wicket-taker in the 2019-20 series victory in South Africa and the drawn Ashes series with Australia last year.

There was no place in the side for the 34-year-old in the first of three Tests versus the Windies, though, as James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood got the nod.

England's second-highest Test wicket-taker is at a loss to understand why he was left out in Southampton, missing out on a home Test for the first time since 2012.

He told Sky Sports: "I'm not a particularly emotional person but I've found the last couple of days quite tough.

"To say I was disappointed would be an understatement; you're disappointed if you drop your phone and the screen breaks.

"I'm frustrated, angry and gutted. It's difficult to understand. I've probably bowled the best I've ever bowled the last couple of years, I felt it was my shirt. I was in the team for the Ashes and going to South Africa and winning there.

Broad revealed he had asked national selector Ed Smith why he was not included.

He added: "I spoke to Ed Smith last night, he said he was involved in picking the 13 and this side was picked purely for this pitch. I wanted clarification on my future and I was given pretty positive feedback going forward.

"So yes, I was frustrated in the fact that I felt like I deserved a spot in the team."

Broad knows his omission shows the strength in depth England can call upon.

"You can't argue the bowlers walking on that field don't deserve to play," Broad said. "Everyone deserves to play. Chris Woakes, Sam Curran were bowling really well and probably deserve to be in the XI.

"It's just annoying when it's not you that's in that XI. Very rarely do you get guys fit and available for each Test match. That's where selection has been tricky.

"It's great to see strength and depth in the fast bowling ranks. It's the only way that England cricket moves forward and gets better. And with high competition in squads it keeps the standard high. Everyone is under pressure for their spots."

Jason Holder is eyeing a century after ticking off a five-wicket haul on English soil as West Indies piled pressure on England on day two of the opening Test.

West Indies captain Holder led by example with the ball, claiming career-best figures of 6-42 to help the visitors bowl out England for 204 before tea in Southampton on Thursday.

Shannon Gabriel weighed in with 4-62 but it was the Holder show at the Rose Bowl, where the Windies reached 57-1 at stumps – trailing England by 147 runs.

Holder's figures were the best for a West Indies captain in England and he has now taken at least five wickets in an innings in six of his past 10 Tests.

The Windies paceman revelled in his performance as he set his sights on another feat with the bat, saying: "My Test match is far from over.

"I've still got a massive contribution to make with the bat, and that's where my focus is going to be channelled now in this innings.

"One of the things I've always strived to do… was to score a hundred in England and to take a five-wicket haul here. I've ticked one box so far, so I guess it's now left for me to knuckle down and try to get a hundred."

After dismissing Zak Crawley (10) and Ollie Pope (12) before lunch on the second day, Holder then claimed the prized scalp of captain Ben Stokes (43).

Stokes and Jos Buttler (35) looked as though they might get on top of the Windies after England were reeling at 87-5, but Holder broke the threatening partnership in the middle session.

"It was a big wicket to get," Holder said. "Stokesy was looking quite set. We put down two chances and he was looking to make us pay for them. When I came on, his partnership with Jos was starting to blossom, and it was important to break that partnership quickly and not let it materialise into something that could really hurt us.

"I just wanted to be really consistent to him. He was pretty settled and countering the line that we were bowling by walking across and walking down. I was getting just enough movement there to keep him at bay, and I wanted to keep him playing."

England will have their work cut out on day three as Kraigg Brathwaite (20 not out) and Shai Hope (3 not out) return to the crease, with John Campbell (28) the only wicket to fall prior to stumps.

"They've done really well today and showed us the way to go," England paceman Mark Wood said. "We were in a similar position in the first innings and now we've got a chance to make it right like they did."

Wood added: "We haven't had the best day so plenty to do. I'd prefer a few in the wickets column rather than the pace column.

"They bowled well and got to give them credit, but 204 wasn't on the radar, we'd have liked 250 or 300. We didn't get it right with the ball, they got their line and length spot on. It's a bit of cobwebs and rust."

Jason Holder led by example with the ball as West Indies seized control of the first Test against England in Southampton.

Stuart Broad will miss his first home England Test since 2012 after being left out against West Indies at the Rose Bowl.

The return of international cricket, put on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, was further delayed by rain in Southampton on Wednesday.

However, conditions eventually allowed for the two captains - Ben Stokes and Jason Holder - to emerge for the coin toss, which England won with Stokes electing to bat.

Stand-in captain Stokes, taking the place of Joe Root - missing the match to attend the birth of his second child - confirmed the omission of seam bowler Broad for the first of three behind-closed-doors Tests.

All-rounder Chris Woakes was also left out, with England opting for the pace of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood alongside the swing of James Anderson.

"Very, very tough decision with [leaving out] Broad and Woakes but we feel with Woody and Jofra's pace it adds another dimension," Broad said. 

"There was a lot of disappointment around but they took it like champions."

Holder, meanwhile, elected to go with four pace bowlers, with Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel joining the all-rounder in the attack.

Rahkeem Cornwall missed out, Holder picking Roston Chase as his spin option.

The start of play was rescheduled for 2:00pm (local time).

 

Azhar Ali sounded a note of cautious optimism over Pakistan's preparations for the Test series in England.

Pakistan face the hosts in a three-match series starting at Old Trafford next month, with captain Azhar's side training in Worcester.

They staged an intra-squad friendly across Sunday and Monday and, after a three-month coronavirus-enforced break, Azhar was pleased by what he saw.

"Both batsmen and bowlers have adapted to the conditions," he told the Pakistan Cricket Board website.

"The wind was troubling the bowlers initially but they overcame it, which was heartening. Definitely, the players are going to need some time to adjust.

"Despite the break, they are in good shape, which is a positive sign for us.

"All the batsmen batted quite well, especially Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq and Abid Ali seemed in total control, Shan Masood adapted well to the conditions and Mohammad Rizwan looked in good shape.

"Mohammad Abbas is our experienced bowler and his presence is of advantage for us as he also keeps guiding the youngsters.

"He is someone who can be a very important member of the attack for us. Naseem Shah bowled very well in the scenario-based match. He will attain more control as he continues to bowl."

Pakistan's initial squad had to be altered after several players tested positive for coronavirus, but no cases of COVID-19 have been found within the touring party.

England are in "capable hands" with Ben Stokes in charge, according to West Indies captain Jason Holder, as the top two all-rounders prepare to lead their respective teams at the Rose Bowl.

With Test skipper Joe Root not playing for family reasons, Stokes will get his first taste of international captaincy when England begin their three-Test series against West Indies on Wednesday.

Holder, in contrast, is vastly experienced in the job. The 28-year-old is also number one in the ICC Test all-rounder rankings, sitting just above his opposite number ahead of the return of international cricket amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The individual battle between the two skippers will be an interesting subplot to proceedings, particularly as Stokes will now have to deal with added responsibilities as he fills in for the absent Root.

"England are in capable hands [with Stokes]," Holder told the media ahead of the series opener in Southampton. "He's an excellent cricketer and a great competitor. I'm sure the guys in their dressing room will look up to him.

"He'll have experienced campaigners in his dressing room to help him along, I'm sure. I wish him all the best in this one game as captain."

Both teams boast strong seam-bowling depth, suggesting it will be a tough series for batsmen.

Like England, West Indies have often leaned heavily on the lower order for runs but Holder - who averages 32.72 in the format - is not concerned over who contributes for his team, so long as they post a competitive total.

"It doesn't have to only come from the top order. We're putting a lot of emphasis on the top order," he said.

Yes, they haven't probably lived up to the expectations, but in general it's still a team sport. We've just got to put runs on the board. However we get them, personally, I don't care.  

"It's just a matter of us putting runs on the board and giving our bowlers something to work with."

Holder confirmed West Indies would leave it until the morning of the game to decide on their final XI. The tourists have travelled with a larger squad to work in bio-secure conditions, though the unique situation has afforded opportunities for some on the fringes to impress.

"We've got a few young fast bowlers on tour. Obviously the circumstances have led to us bringing a much bigger touring party and that has given us the luxury to work with some young promising fast bowlers," Holder said.

"I must say I've been very impressed with all of them. They look very, very fit and healthy. There is obviously a lot of room for improvement, but having them here they have been open to learning. A lot of them have grasped so many things over the past couple of weeks.

"The practice session we had yesterday was one of the best practice sessions I've seen in my time playing cricket. It was very, very lively. The fast bowlers really ran in and challenged our batters.

"That really says a lot about the future for these young guys if they can stay fit and healthy, stay on track and work hard, we will have a really good cohort of fast bowlers."

Ben Stokes revealed that Joe Root left him a message telling the stand-in England captain to "do it your way" in the first Test against West Indies at the Rose Bowl.

Stokes will lead his country for the first time when the three-match series starts in Southampton on Wednesday, with Root absent as his wife is due to give birth to their second child.

The all-rounder will be open to advice from his team-mates and welcomed input from Root.

"The best message that I've received was when I got my photos done yesterday with the blazer," Stokes said on Tuesday. "Rooty just left a message on the hanger which said: 'do it your way.'

"When I first got asked I said I'd be open to opinions. Just because Joe's not here, that doesn't mean I'm not going to use him.

"Joe's always been very open and willing [to take] to advice from players, so I think I'd be stupid to go away from that. 

"We've got so much experience in this team that it would be silly not to lean on that if I feel like I need some advice."

Stokes added: "With Joe and his personal situation it's been a case of letting him deal with that

"I haven't been on him too much but I'm sure once the Test match starts, I know he'll be at home watching and I know that his phone will always be available for me to get in contact with him if I need to."

The tourists were 2-1 winners when the two nations did battle in the Caribbean last year, but both have a new head coach and Stokes believes England are a different proposition now.

"I think there's a lot more clarity with everybody," he said. "We have an identity as a Test team.

"Whereas in times gone past, a few lads might have felt under pressure with guys knocking the door down in a negative way, now we look at that in a positive way where there's competition for places in the team.

"If you're not performing well as a player, there's someone right behind you ready to come in. That's a great place to be in, especially as an international side.

"We have an identity now as a Test team. For us going forward, it's about building on that identity.

"We have a goal of becoming the best team in the world so we're building towards that."

Brian Lara has urged West Indies to "pounce immediately" and rattle England early on in their three-Test series.

The Windies great, formerly the all-time record run-scorer in Tests, believes his countrymen will struggle if matches go the full five-day distance.

But he sees West Indies as having the players who can impose themselves on their hosts, with the behind-closed-doors series starting in Southampton on Wednesday.

"They have to hit the road running and stamp their authority on England," Lara said in quotes published by the BBC.

"I don't think they can last five days, so they have to take these games in four days. They have to establish a lead and keep it."

Lara still holds the highest individual score in Tests - the 400 not out he scored against England in Antigua in 2004.

He knows what it takes to pick apart an England bowling attack, and West Indies' 2-1 series victory over the same opponents last year suggests the current breed can also more than hold their own.

Whether West Indies can be as competitive in English conditions as they were in the Caribbean remains to be seen.

"They have to be able to pounce immediately," said Lara. "England are not beaten very easily at home and are overwhelming favourites."

According to the 51-year-old Trinidadian, the tone for the series could be set on day one.

Lara said: "If they play good cricket on the first day of the Test series, show they have the mettle to perform against England, that's the key."

Ben Stokes will lead by example when he captains England against West Indies, says Dom Sibley.

With Joe Root absent from England's squad for the first Test in Southampton due to the birth of his second child, Stokes is to take charge for the opening game of the three-match series.

Sibley looks set to open the batting alongside Rory Burns as England return to action after a lengthy coronavirus-enforced absence.

"The boys are all raring to go. We've had the three-day warm-up which was good practice, we're all looking forward to getting out in the middle," said Sibley.

"[Stokes] is just going to do what he does, lead from the front, lead by example.

"His quality and energy on the pitch is a unique skill and presence. He'll just use that.

"He's someone the young guys look up to and will continue to do that regardless of whether he's captain or not."

Sibley scored his maiden Test 100 against South Africa in Cape Town in January and impressed on the tour, though he did not get chance to build on those displays prior to lockdown.

However, the 24-year-old – who revealed he has lost 12 kilograms over the course of the break – acknowledged the rest has been helpful.

"At the time I was raring to go and it's new for me to be playing for England, so I was buzzing to play every game," he added.

"But you've got to try and take it as a positive and to have a break after such a long winter was nice. To sit back and work out what I needed to improve on to keep doing well at this level, further my game.

"I'm trying to build on what I did in South Africa and hopefully contribute to a few wins. A few of us did quite well in South Africa, it feels like a lifetime ago but it's a case of trying to build on that and trying to score a few big scores in the series.

"I've been working hard during lockdown, it was probably needed to be fair. Over the winter I was carrying too much weight. I'm glad I'm feeling a bit fitter."

All of the upcoming matches will be played behind closed doors, though Sibley does not feel his game will be affected too drastically.

"If I could have had a choice, it's always a dream to play a Test at Lord's or at your home ground in front of a packed house," he said.

"Circumstances haven't allowed that to happen. I'd always choose to have a crowd in but maybe it might work to my advantage. It's not going to change how I play, I'm just going to do my thing."

England will face Pakistan in a three-match Test series throughout August, the ECB has confirmed, with Australia's planned white-ball tour to be rescheduled.

Due to the impact of coronavirus, no international cricket has been played since March, though England will take on West Indies in a three-Test series that starts on Wednesday at the Ageas Bowl and then shifts to Old Trafford.

The Southampton venue will also host three ODIs between England and Ireland and two of the Tests with Pakistan, with the Test series starting at Old Trafford on August 5.

Old Trafford will then act as the venue for three Twenty20 internationals between the sides, starting on August 28. All matches will be played behind closed doors.

 

However, there are as yet no confirmed dates for Australia's white-ball tour, which had initially been planned to start on July 3.

"Confirmation of these matches against Ireland and Pakistan is another important step for our game as we begin to safely stage international cricket again, but also to minimise the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on cricket at all levels," ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said.

"It has taken significant effort and expertise to allow us to reach a position where cricket is now ready and able to return to the field of play from the elite level to recreational cricket.

"We owe a significant debt of gratitude to the players, staff and administrators of the Cricket West Indies, Cricket Ireland, and the Pakistan Cricket Board for their willingness and co-operation to get international cricket back up and running and allow these matches to be staged.

"It must be reiterated that there is still much work for the ECB and the cricket network to do as we try to plot a path through this pandemic.

"We also continue to explore options to play [the] white-ball series against Australia this summer and hope to have news on the series soon."

International cricket returns when England and West Indies begin their three-Test series on Wednesday, albeit in unprecedented circumstances.  

Bio-secure venues minus spectators, home umpires, potential coronavirus substitutes and no saliva on the ball are just some of the consequences of attempting to play during a global health pandemic. It will be Test cricket, just not quite as we have come to know it.  

There will also be a noticeable change to England’s team, too. With Joe Root out due to the birth of his second child, Ben Stokes will captain the team for the first time.  

The opportunity to lead in a Test perhaps completes the circle for the all-rounder. An incident outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 cost him the vice-captaincy, but he has rehabilitated his reputation through his actions, both on and off the field, to reclaim the position as Root's deputy. 

Now, at 29, Stokes is preparing to become the 81st Test captain for England. It is a one-off on this occasion, yet also a potential dress rehearsal for the future. Root is the same age as his team-mate but has been in charge since February 2017; the grind eventually takes a toll on all who fill the role – and the numbers suggest performances suffer with the added burden.  

Sitting fourth in the official Test rankings, England will be wary of asking their talismanic all-rounder to do too much. For now, though, this is an opportunity for Stokes to step in and demonstrate his capabilities as a captain (a role he has not filled in first-class cricket previously). 

He has been second in command, now it is time to take on the top job, albeit temporarily. 

A (RECENT) HISTORY LESSON

Stokes will be the 11th different player to lead England in the 21st century. The last three to take on the job – Root, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen – all started out with victories. 

Indeed, Michael Vaughan was the last skipper to suffer disappointment on his captaincy debut in the format, losing to South Africa at Lord's in July 2003. He was not aided by Nasser Hussain, the man who had stepped down prior to the match, dropping Graeme Smith when he had eight to his name. The left-hander went on to make 259 as the Proteas triumphed by an innings.

Mark Butcher stood in for a solitary game in August 1999, taking over with Hussain sidelined during the home series against New Zealand at Old Trafford. 

England drew that game but Butcher contributed just 14 runs in his two knocks during a weather-hit contest. He was dropped for the next game as England lost at The Oval to go down 2-1 in the series.

Cook was captain for 59 Tests – a record for England – while Michael Atherton (54), Vaughan (51) and Andrew Strauss (50) also made the half-century mark. Root's tally is at 39 and with a hectic itinerary mapped out over the next 18 months or so, dependent on any further complications caused by COVID-19, he will not have to wait too long to reach the milestone.

STOKES BY THE STATS 

To say Stokes is a key contributor for England is an understatement. His match-winning abilities with both bat and ball are hugely important as they bring balance to the XI. His presence means the attack can include five frontline bowlers without having to weaken the middle order. 

His overall statistics for Test cricket do not do justice to his talent. Stokes averages 36.5 with the bat in 63 Test appearances, yet he's recorded a mark of just over 47 across his 26 knocks since the start of 2019. 

Included is that unforgettable innings against Australia at Headingley last year, as he kept his side alive in the Ashes with an unbeaten 135. England chased down 359 on a fourth day that will live long in the memory for those who watched it, Stokes adding 73 with last-man Jack Leach – who contributed only a single to the cause – for company. 

The left-hander had already made a century in the previous Test of that series at Lord's, while earlier this year he hit 120 against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. 

Stokes passed 4,000 Test runs for his career during the series with the Proteas but now stands on the brink of another notable personal landmark.

He is just three shy of bringing up 150 wickets in the format. He posted career-best figures of 6-22 against West Indies in 2017, with his overall average against the men from the Caribbean a touch better than his career mark (31.09 compared to 32.68). 

THE NUMBERS GAME

So, is captaincy a hindrance or a help? Considering his importance to the team, England will be loathed to overburden Stokes, a factor that would be considered when deciding if he is the right candidate to replace Root for more than just the odd Test. 

Ian Botham - another great all-rounder - did not prosper during his stint as captain. His 12-Test reign saw him average a meagre 13.14 with the bat (his career number finished at 33.54) and ended with a pair during the 1981 Ashes. Freed of the responsibility as Mike Brearley took over, Botham produced a series of blistering performances to make sure England retained the urn, including an innings at Headingley comparable to Stokes' knock.

Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, also found it a difficult role during his three matches in charge. The best player is not necessarily the ideal candidate. 

"The entertainers and the guys that have to carry that mantle in the team sometimes aren't the best captains, and sometimes struggle with the extra added pressure," Pietersen told talkSPORT.

"You get looked at completely differently. Responsibilities change, communication changes, the way in which you carry yourself in the dressing room changes. It's a difficult place to be. I struggled with it: I absolutely hated it, and I was rubbish."

Root has seen his batting output slip considerably since taking on the added responsibility. Having averaged 52.8 in his first 53 Tests, the right-hander has since made 3,005 runs at 42.9 in his games as captain. Good, but not great.

Vaughan too suffered a drop, averaging 36 in his 51 Tests in charge, compared to 51 for the rest of his career. Cook, however, improved during his tenure, going up from 44.6 to 46.6, as did fellow opener Atherton (35.3 to 40.6).

England will have to work out if the risk is worth the reward in terms of Stokes becoming captain, considering what he means to the side. At least the series opener against West Indies will offer a potential glimpse into the future. 

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