‘Do it your way’ – Joe Root’s message for Ben Stokes

first_imgBy     Matt RollerJOE Root has told Ben Stokes to “do it your way” as he captains England for the first time against West Indies today.Root will miss a Test match this week for the first time since 2014 to attend the birth of his second child, with Stokes taking the reins instead. In his pre-match press conference, Stokes said that he would be “silly not to” tap into the experience around him in the side, and revealed that Root had left him a note on the hanger of the captain’s blazer encouraging him to be himself.“The best message that I’ve received was when I got my photos done yesterday with the blazer,” Stokes said. “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 listen) 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.“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 know as soon as the Test match starts, 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.”Stokes has previously pledged to take “the positive route” as captain, and said that he thought England have more of an identity as a side now than during their 2-1 series defeat in the Caribbean last year.Since Chris Silverwood replaced Trevor Bayliss as head coach following last summer’s Ashes series, the Test team has played a more familiar style of cricket, with a particular emphasis on the top order batting for long periods of time. While England’s top six in the first Test will be short on experience, with just 109 caps between them, Stokes said that there is now a much clearer blueprint than has been the case in recent years.“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.”England will name their side for the first Test, with the question of which fast bowlers to leave out being the only decision that needs to be taken following the announcement of a 13-man squad on Saturday.James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are competing for three spots in the playing XI, with Stokes and off-spinner Dom Bess rounding off the bowling attack, and the selectors have made clear over the course of the past two weeks that the side picked for the first Test will be the best one available to them, despite plans to rotate later in the summer.“It’s not very often that we’ve been in a situation where we’ve got six or seven bowlers to choose from,” Stokes said. “It’s a real head-scratcher as somebody who’s got to choose the side but as a bigger picture it’s a great place to be in as a team.“I feel as if we’re in a position now as a Test team like we were with the one-day team in 2015 and building for that World Cup. I feel as if we’re building towards the Ashes in Australia and also India. To have the crop of fast bowlers that we now possess especially is a great place to be in as a Test team.“I’ve been dreading it the last three days, having to deliver bad news to some lads. It’s obviously not a nice thing to have to do, but that comes with being the captain and with being in a leadership role. It’s got to be done. With the schedule that we have, with six Test matches in seven weeks, there’s going to have to be a lot considered going forward. We’ll have to wait and see what the future brings in terms of the Test matches after this.” (ESPN Cricinfo)last_img read more

No. 14 USC men’s volleyball looks to continue upset streak

first_imgEven though the men’s volleyball team had their winning streak snapped after losing to Long Beach State last week, the team upset three top-ranked teams in the last four games. Those upsets have gone far in establishing the Trojans’ national standing, earning the team their first ranking at No. 14 this season.The Trojans look to add another upset to their list as they take on No. 4 Hawaii in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday in a road matchup.“[Hawaii is] doing everything well,” head coach Jeff Nygaard said. “They are playing good volleyball. Categorically, if you look at the stats, they are near the top in every category: blocking, serving, side out, opponent side out. They are just doing a lot at a high level, which means we have to perform at a high level in order to contend with that.”While taking on a top team that looks to continue its 11-match winning streak is already a challenge, the Trojans will have to deal with overcoming injuries as well.Senior outside hitter Lucas Yoder, who is currently leading the nation in kills and points, did not play in the last game due to an abdominal strain. Sophomore outside hitter Gianluca Grasso has missed four games with an ankle sprain but showed signs of recovery as he played in the final set last week.However, it is uncertain whether either will be able to contribute on the court in these two games.“It is a TBD kind of thing,” Nygaard said. “I mean Lucas was taken off the court for a shorter period of time, but I am hoping he is ready to go. We will see what Gianluca’s ankle looks like.”With or without the two starters, the Trojans not only will be playing two nights in a row, but will also be facing the same team at their opponent’s home court.However, only the first game will count as an MPSF match. The second game will serve as a friendly, but could turn into a redemption match should the Trojans lose the first bout with Hawaii.“The positive is the second night out, there are no surprises,” Nygaard said. “You’ve already seen the game plan and it is already fresh in their head, so it is more of a few tweaks here, watch some video and reaffirm the things we want to do and go back out. It becomes a little more about heart at that point because you are going to be a little bit tired two nights in a row. ”last_img read more