Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar has little doubt that Ben Stokes will lead England from the front in the opening Test against West Indies, with his "controlled aggression" and infectious energy aiding him the most.
Tendulkar spoke about stand-in English skipper Stokes while previewing the three-Test series, which starts in Southampton on Wednesday, with West Indies legend Brian Lara on the online platform '100mb'. The match marks the resumption of international cricket amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To a question from Lara about Stokes, Tendulkar said, "He is someone who is going to lead from the front, we have seen that on a number of occasions. He is aggressive, positive and when he has to be slightly defensive he is prepared to do that for the team.
"I always feel controlled aggression produces results and so far whatever I have seen, the aggression has been there but it is controlled. So this is what I think of Ben Stokes."
It is the first time Stokes is leading England having not captained even a first-class team in his career. Regular skipper Joe Root has opted out of the game to attend the birth of his second child.
Tendulkar said, "For Ben Stokes from what he has been through in the recent past to where he is today it is a total transformation and it can happen only to someone who is mentally strong.
"When I first looked at him a few years ago, I could see his body language it was so positive and vibrant and that energy is infectious.
"I felt that he was one of those players where in time to come you look back and say Ben Stokes, (Andrew) Flintoff, Ian Botham these are the leading allrounders who played for England. I really rate him highly and his impact on the field is a major one."
On his part, Lara said, besides Jason Holder's captaincy, batting will hold the key for West Indies against a fine England seam attack, and reminded the likes of Shai Hope to take a cue from Tendulkar's epic 241 at the SCG and few of his own knocks in English conditions.
"You don't necessarily have to dominate each bowler. If you are batting on 70-80 and somebody is giving you trouble you back off.
Continuing, Lara told his one-time biggest rival: "You know that as well Sachin, in terms of that great innings you played in Sydney, it was not about a particular bowler getting you out but it was a particular shot getting you out, and you stopped yourself from playing it and you were able to score in other areas. So it's a similar sort of approach."
The Prince of Trinidad, who played some fine knocks in England, recalled his approach to batting there.
"I remembered a lot of innings I have played in the past, with Chanderpaul or Jimmy Adams. Those partnerships were so, so important in getting me to where I got to, getting the team the runs that were required.
"So again, with all the challenges that the West Indies team is going to face with the bat, partnerships are important, rotating the strike, making sure that you keep the bowlers' best deliveries out and punish the bad ones.
"Putting runs of the on the board will be key for the West Indies," Lara said.
He also remembered his duels with the great Glenn McGrath and cited them as example to help the current team.
"A good example would be Australia, playing against Australia and I would be on 78 or maybe 114 and McGrath comes back for a spell.
"I know he is going to bowl six overs-seven overs, so I don't need to take any great risk if the other guys at the other end are giving me the opportunity to score," Lara said.