Long before Ben Stokes was announced as the captain of England cricket team, although for just one match in the absence of regular-skipper Joe Root, former team coach Trevor Bayliss had spotted the all-rounder's captaincy potential. But back then, his explanation posed as a mere joke to a room full of reporters.
Bayliss on Wednesday journeyed back to 2016, after England's defeat to Bangladesh in Chittagong and there was speculation surrounding the future of Alastair Cook as the captain of the English Test side.
In conversation with Guardian, Bayliss revealed that Root was considered a perfect successor to Cook given that he was already the vice-captain, but "Then someone asked me, ‘Is there anyone else?’
“I put Stokesy’s name out there and everyone laughed. I was like ‘no, mate, I’m serious.’ He’s like Eoin Morgan in that he’s a leader of men and when he talks, everyone listens. They’re just drawn to him.
“The standing that other players hold him in, that’s half the battle. Whether you make the right or wrong decision if your players believe you and have confidence in you – which I’m pretty sure they have – they’ll follow.”
Bayliss described the youngster as an "ideal" deputy to captain Root as the duo continue to work towards their dream of claiming the Ashes in 2021/22 tour, but he also added that Stokes would “find a way of handling it” if given the captaincy responsibility.
Stokes was confirmed to lead England for the Ageas Bowl opener against West Indies on July 8 as Root will be away on personal reasons. For Bayliss, Stokes's greatest responsibility concerning him will be the balance between his responsibility as a leader and as an all-rounder, especially with the ball.
Bayliss added: “Will he bowl himself at the right times? Will he bowl himself long enough? Will he have the guts to bowl a long spell like he did in Leeds last year? [Stokes bowled an overnight spell of 24.3 overs in Australia’s second innings]. These are the questions we won’t have an answer to until it happens.
“But I think he’ll do a good job. I would expect him to be a fairly proactive captain and very positive. And whatever happens, it will certainly be interesting to sit back and watch.”