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Stokes likely to lead England vs West Indies in 1st test

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Ben Stokes will likely captain England against the West Indies in the first cricket test next week as regular skipper Joe Root is expecting his second child. Root would normally rejoin the team at his earliest convenience, but first he would have to go back into isolation for a week. The test in Southampton starts in 10 days, July 8.

As vice-captain, Stokes is ready and willing to step up temporarily, adding to an already crowded list of responsibilities he enjoys as England's primary allrounder and talisman. “I'm not one of those people that people would necessarily associate as being the next England captain," he said on Monday. "I’m really looking forward to the opportunity. But being a captain has never been a real goal, it’s just about winning.

“It’s a huge honor to think about. At the same time, I know I’m only stepping in to take over for one game because of Joe’s personal situation.” Stokes’ first act as skipper could be leading England in a gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The West Indies will wear the BLM symbol on their shirts throughout the series and discussions are ongoing about how England can show unity with the cause.

“We are having discussions, and we’re also having discussions with (West Indies captain) Jason Holder,” Stokes said. “It would be great to be able to do something as Team England and Team West Indies and showing our support together.

“In terms of anything crystal clear, we’re not there yet. It’s great that two teams are wanting to work together to be able to show support for Black Lives Matter.” England is living and training in Southampton in strict isolation, and begin a three-day squad match at the Ageas Bowl from Wednesday.

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