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."

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."

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. 

England have opted not to recall Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali for their first Test against West Indies, but Dom Bess does make the 13-man squad.

Test cricket returns on Wednesday when England meet the Windies behind closed doors in Southampton in the opening Test of a three-match series.

Ben Stokes will captain the side for the first time as regular skipper Joe Root has left the team bubble to attend the birth of his second child.

Sam Curran, who has been battling illness, is the only other player to miss out from the XI that faced South Africa in Johannesburg in England's last Test in January.

The squad for the West Indies Test also includes Rory Burns, James Anderson and Jofra Archer - who were missing at the Wanderers due to injury - and spinner Bess, who played earlier in the South Africa series.

There is no recall for either Bairstow or Moeen, neither of whom are included on the nine-man reserve list, which does feature Curran.

Bairstow has not played since scoring a combined 10 across two innings against South Africa in the first Test of that series last December.

All-rounder Moeen has not featured in the five-day game since the 2019 Ashes having opted out of England's three tours since, though he was named in the 30-man squad that has been training in preparation for the Windies series.

Uncapped pair James Bracey and Dan Lawrence - both of whom scored half-centuries in the intra-squad match this week - are on the reserve list too along with bowling options Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood and Ollie Robinson.

Ben Stokes is a talisman who will do a great job as stand-in captain for England in the first Test against West Indies, head coach Chris Silverwood has said.

Stokes will skipper the side as international cricket returns from the coronavirus-enforced hiatus at the Ageas Bowl on July 8, with England's regular Test captain Joe Root set to miss the opening game of the three-match series to be at the birth of his second child.

Root will have to self-isolate for seven days before returning to the England camp ahead of the final two Tests at Old Trafford as part of coronavirus protocols.

All-rounder Stokes will step into the breach, with Jos Buttler serving as vice-captain, and Silverwood has the utmost confidence in the Durham man to perform the role to a high standard.

"I think he will do a great job," Silverwood told reporters at a media conference. 

"He is a talisman, isn't he? He leads from the front anyway. He is conscientious of the people around him as well so I think he will do a great job in Joe Root's absence."

Asked what kind of captain he will be, Silverwood replied: "We will find out won't we?

"We know he has got an aggressive nature but equally there is a good cricket brain in there as well. 

"I think he will be quite thoughtful about what moves he is making out there. I'm looking forward to working with him from a coaching point of view. I will extend him the same courtesies I do Rooty. 

"He will have a lot of say in what is going on and he will play a big part in giving his opinions across selection as well.

"I think he's in a good position to do it, he's been Rooty's right-hand man for a while. I know Rooty does turn to him a lot. He's been in a lot of the talks we have behind the scenes so he's in a great place to pick up the reins."

England have confirmed Ben Stokes will captain the Test side against West Indies next week as Joe Root will attend the birth of his second child. 

Regular skipper Root will leave the team's training camp on Wednesday to be with his wife, Carrie, who is expecting their child later this week.

Due to coronavirus protocol, Root will need to self-isolate for seven days once he leaves the hospital, meaning he will miss the start of the first Test, which begins on July 8.

All-rounder Stokes, who is normally the vice-captain, will therefore fill in for Root as the skipper for the first of the three Tests.

Root is due to return to the role for the second Test, which begins in Manchester on July 13.

Ben Stokes wants to continue with the same mindset should the England captaincy be bestowed upon him in the coming weeks.

England return to Test action next month with three matches against West Indies in the bio-secure stadiums in Manchester and Southampton, and they are set to be without skipper Joe Root when the first contest begins on July 8. 

Root is due to leave the team bubble to be with his wife for the birth of their second child and he will require a seven-day period of self-isolation before returning to camp.

That means vice-captain Stokes is set to deputise as skipper, despite concerns from former captain Kevin Pietersen that such a role would curb the all-rounder's attacking instincts.

Stokes is determined to remain the same man, though, even if he admits it will be hard to get the ball out of his hand when he is on a roll.

Stokes said: "If it's flat, I'll just chuck the ball to Jofra [Archer] and Broady [Stuart Broad] and Jimmy [Anderson] and say, 'On you go!'

"It is a tough one because when Joe asks me to come and bowl… if I'm not bowling well I know, right, I'm probably going to be taken off here.

"But then when I feel like I'm in a really good rhythm and don't want to be taken off, Joe doesn't say, 'Keep going.' He sort of looks and goes, 'One more?' And he'll say that for another four or five overs.

"I guess I might have to be a little bit more mindful as I'm the person who's making that decision, but if I've got the ball in my hand or I've got the bat in my hand, I would like to think I'm still going to have to that same mentality as I always do.

"I've been in so many different situations in the field as a batter and as a bowler that I can always relate back to them and think, 'Right, what did Joe expect of me in this situation?' But it's a tough one isn't it to know if you are feeling good as a bowler when to keep yourself on."

While others such as Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Root had been earmarked to be England captain long before they were eventually handed the role, Stokes acknowledged few would have considered him as a skipper-in-waiting.

However, the 29-year-old believes he is ready for the position having played in 63 Tests since his debut in 2013.

"I've been a senior player since 2016 under Cooky and since Joe's been in charge," he added.

"Being able to learn from Alastair Cook and Rooty in terms of different situations throughout the game has rubbed off on me and will put me in good stead for all the different situations that a Test match can throw at you.

"At the same time, we've got some really experienced guys out in the field who I can use. We've got Jimmy, Broady, who've just got ample Test matches and wickets between them. There's so many people that you can throw ideas off.

"I would like to think I would be quite an open captain and wouldn't want my way is the only way. I don't think that's the best way to operate.

"There's 11 guys out in the field so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you're thinking about?"

Former England Test captain Kevin Pietersen does not want to see Ben Stokes made skipper should Joe Root miss a game against West Indies next month.

England are set to return to action with three behind-closed-doors Tests against the Windies at the Rose Bowl and Old Trafford.

However, current five-day captain Root may be missing for one of those fixtures as his wife, Carrie, is due to give birth, with the batsman conceding he would leave the bio-secure areas in Southampton and Manchester to attend the birth.

Root has not missed a Test since being named captain in 2017 but has backed current vice-captain Stokes to step up should he not be available.

However, Pietersen has advised against having all-rounder Stokes fill the void given his own brief experience of a role he had for only three Tests.

"Do I want to see Ben Stokes change from who he is and the current player he is? Probably not, Jos Buttler would be my guy," Pietersen, who resigned as England captain in 2009, told talkSPORT.

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

"As a player you are looked at completely differently until that phone call comes and you are announced as the Test captain.

"Responsibilities change, communication changes, the way in which you carry yourself in the dressing room changes.

"I struggled with it, I absolutely hated it and I was rubbish. You have to change and I couldn't command the respect of the dressing room. You say something and it is frowned upon, it is a completely different story."

Ben Stokes would make an excellent England captain and could "solve the puzzle" of combining being all-rounder with leadership duties.

That is the view of former England star Andrew Flintoff, who himself had difficulty in balancing the same responsibilities with the national side.

Stokes, who is Test skipper Joe Root's second in command, has had a huge influence across all three formats and Flintoff has no doubt he could take on the top job.

"There'll be the argument where people say that all-rounders don't make good captains," Flintoff told talkSPORT.

"We've tried it before, 'look at that Flintoff, look at [Ian] Botham' – everyone will get labelled that they can't do it if you're an all-rounder.

"I'm sure that Ben will be thinking, 'I'd love a go at that, I'd love a chance to captain England'. But he's vice-captain, he's obviously got the respect of all the players, his current captain, his coaching staff.

"Why can't Ben Stokes be good? He's done everything else, he almost single-handedly won a World Cup final, he's won Test matches on his own. He's a leader in the dressing room, he's involved in all the tricky situations in games.

"At some point he'll get a go at being England captain and he just might be the one who solves the puzzle of being an all-rounder and doing the job well. 

"One thing I would say is, sometimes as an all-rounder and being that influential within a team you can put a bit too much pressure on yourself and that's the only thing he's got to be wary of."

Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

Ben Stokes is a "freakish" talent and a great team player, according to England team-mate Dom Bess.

Stokes has produced a string of excellent displays for his country across multiple formats, cementing his place among the sport's elite stars.

Having helped England to victory at the Cricket World Cup on home soil last year, he was the hosts' standout performer in the Ashes, scoring 441 runs.

Bess, who made his international bow at Test level in 2018, is a firm admirer of the swashbuckling all-rounder, citing Stokes' work ethic and willingness to lead by example as key.

"I've watched him train, not just him but [all] the senior boys, how they train, how they go about things, is a different level," he told Stats Pefrorm.

"For me and the youngsters it's amazing to see because we now see how the best in the world do it.

"To see how he [Stokes] goes about it is freakish. He always works hard but the big thing as well is he's very much a team man. I think that rubs off really well on other blokes.

"And then to have that consistency, when people aren't watching, you're doing it genuinely for your side and helping people out, it's a little thing but it goes a long way

"If you watched him for three, four training sessions you'd see how consistent he is and that's something I really look up to.

"The things he's done in training, his confidence, his belief, then actually how he goes about it and performs is phenomenal.

"It's never about himself, it's always about the side, which is crucial as well."

Stokes was named the leading cricketer in the world by Wisden last month.

Ben Stokes was the only man who could feasibly have been named the leading cricketer in the world for 2020 by Wisden.

That is the view of former South Africa and Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford, who now leads Ireland.

Stokes ended Virat Kohli's three-year reign in possession of the honour when he was handed the award in April following a stunning 2019 for the England all-rounder.

The 28-year-old helped his country to Cricket World Cup success on home soil.

Stokes was also outstanding in a 2-2 Ashes series draw in which he produced one of the all-time great innings to seal victory in the third Test, scoring 135 not out to see England home by one wicket at Headingley.

"I can't see how [Stokes] couldn't be the recipient of the award," Ford told Stats Perform.

"He's just such a great entertainer, the attitude he shows on the field is just such a fantastic example for any cricketer. It's just a never-say-die attitude.

"At times, the team could be going through a really tough day, somehow he still seems to be enjoying that toughness. It's a freakish type of quality.

"There's a huge excitement for any cricket fan to watch this great entertainer. I mean, who doesn't want to watch batting and entertaining?

"And in the last year he's played these fantastic innings, he's done it before this last year, but in particular this last year he's been fantastic.

"Every single team in the world would want him to be playing for them, it's as simple as that."

Ben Stokes has vowed England will produce showstopping performances when cricket returns - even if the stands are empty.

After last year's Cricket World Cup and Headingley Ashes heroics, all-rounder Stokes and England would have been a hot ticket this year, and they were looking forward to a home series against West Indies.

A three-Test series in June has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are hopes it could take place later in the year.

It seems inevitable the matches will be played behind closed doors, however, if they happen at all.

Asked whether the absence of spectators could mean a competitive edge being diminished, Stokes said: "No, I don't think so whatsoever.

"If you think about it, we're walking out to represent our country, we've got the Three Lions on our chest and there's a game in front of us for us to win.

"Whether that's in front of nobody or like we're used to in front of a full crowd, I don't think it's going to take that competitive side away.

"It's just going to be a completely different scenario for us to get our head around, that there isn't going to be the atmosphere or the cheering that we're used to when we're playing an international game.

"We would do anything to get cricket back on the TVs and for people to follow and watch, and if that means we have to play in front of nobody then so be it."

Stokes, who said he has never run more than eight kilometres in a single stretch before, was setting out to complete a half-marathon on Tuesday to raise money for NHS Charities Together and Chance To Shine.

He is waiting for the green light to return to cricket training, and eventually the go-ahead to return to the field of play for a resumption of competition.

Like everybody with an interest in cricket, he is waiting to hear from the powers-that-be.

Stokes told BBC Radio 5 Live: "There's always plans being put in place and spoken about, but we're still not 100 per cent sure on what's going to happen and when's that going to happen.

"Everybody's main concern at the moment when these chats are happening is the safety and wellbeing of everybody, because at the end of the day that is the most important thing to us as players and the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] as a business.

"They're not going to push anything until everybody is satisfied they can operate without having to worry that people are going to be exposed or put in danger to anything.

"Cricket is just a sport and the health, safety and wellbeing of everybody involved, not just in the team but around the cricket community, is the most important thing right now."

Alex Albon came out on top in a titanic tussle with Charles Leclerc to win the virtual Dutch Grand Prix, while England cricketer Ben Stokes was able to celebrate despite finishing 13th.

Leclerc had won the previous two races but saw his streak come to an end in the latest round of Formula One's Esports series on Sunday.

The Ferrari driver was involved in a see-saw battle around the famous Interlagos circuit in Brazil, a switch of venue required with the Zandvoort track in the Netherlands not available.

Eventually Albon sealed glory for Red Bull, while Leclerc suffered further disappointment when a three-second penalty relegated him down to third place, meaning a promotion for George Russell.

"I was shaking afterwards. I had so much adrenaline going through my body," Albon told Sky Sports F1. "I feel more scared driving a simulator than the real thing - the pressure was unbelievable."

Leclerc was not too disappointed to have missed out on a hat-trick, saying: "I knew I had the penalty, but after that it was about having fun. I really enjoyed this race."

The other battle of interest in the field turned out to be less eventful, however.

Stokes - who had previously competed in the Australian GP - comfortably finished ahead of his international team-mate Stuart Broad, the latter coming home in 17th at the end of his virtual race debut.

As for the real Formula One season, the coronavirus-hit campaign is hoping to finally begin in Austria in early July.

Stuart Broad has laid down the marker for England team-mate Ben Stokes ahead of the cricket stars competing in the Formula One Virtual Grand Prix on Sunday.

Broad and Stokes will take to the track along with professional drivers including Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, plus Italy footballer Alessio Romagnoli, for a virtual race on the Interlagos course in Brazil.

Paceman Broad will be racing for Scuderia AlphaTauri, while Stokes will be competing alongside Albon for Red Bull.

But despite having practised alongside his team-mate this week, Broad has no intention of giving Stokes an easy ride on Sunday.

"I'm taking part in the Virtual GP this weekend at Interlagos, Brazil, racing for Scuderia AlphaTauri," Broad said in a video on F1's official Twitter account.

"I vow to do the team proud and when I say proud, that doesn't mean bring points home, it means to beat Ben Stokes – my England cricket team-mate.

"There's a good rivalry on this track, we've been training hard this week, getting in about 100 laps a day.

"We've been learning off each other about different strategies and stuff but when the race starts, battle is on, Stokesy!"

The Formula One season has yet to get under way due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the first track action set to take place in Austria in early July.

Page 3 of 6
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.