Ben Stokes has played down calls for him to become England's Test captain - and thrown his weight behind current skipper Joe Root.

Pundits such as former England captain Mike Atherton have said Stokes would be the obvious successor to Root.

But, as England prepare for the fourth Ashes test in Sydney having already lost the urn with three defeats in Australia, Cumbrian all-rounder Stokes says he has not entertained such a prospect.

“I’ve said I’ve never really had an ambition to be a captain," Stokes said.

"That’s totally Joe’s decision. He shouldn’t be forced into doing it.

"I’m sure Cooky [Alastair Cook] felt the same way. He did it for so long. When he knew his time was up, his time was up. Those discussions haven’t even entered anywhere near Joe yet.”

Stokes, 30, declined to place the blame for England's poor showings Down Under on Root's shoulders as skipper.

He also said the players are behind head coach Chris Silverwood.

On Root, the Cockermouth star added: "He’s brought this team a long way. He’s done some great things. Obviously this series hasn’t gone too well. Not from a captaincy point of view but from a team and results point of view.

"Unfortunately, the captain and coach bear the scrutiny for that but there are 10 other guys out there in the field beside the captain.

“At the end of the day, the most important people’s opinions are those guys in the dressing room and [Root and Silverwood] have our thorough support.

“Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out in the middle.

"A captain is someone you play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for. Chris Silverwood is exactly the same. He’s a real players’ coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well.”

England's preparations for the fourth Test have been thrown into upheaval by Silverwood testing positive for Covid-19 whilst isolating with his family in Melbourne.

Other coaches have also been forced to isolate, while Adam Hollioake, having agreed to join the set-up to help out, was also forced to isolate having discovered he was a close contact of a positive Covid case.