Stokes has Put England behind Ashes 8 ball Already

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The build-up and excitement to the upcoming Ashes series in Australia has been plunged into limbo as everyone waits to see if Ben Stokes is made available for selection.

The overriding feeling is that Stokes won’t be travelling down under and may have to wait sometime before team director Andrew Strauss eventually invites him to return to the international setup. This all comes after the 26 year old all-rounder from Durham was reportedly involved in an altercation outside a nightclub in Bristol during the early hours of Monday the 25th of September, an incident which is no the subject of police investigation.

The Three Lions hierarchy have to deal with fallout now from the sort of incident they would have been desperate to avoid with the marquee event in their cricket calendar a matter of weeks away. The last time England travelled down under for an Ashes series was in 2013, and they crumbled under the pressure of an in-form Mitchell Johnson, whose 37 wickets in 5 tests crushed the visitors and left them reeling as the test team imploded and were comprehensively whitewashed 5-0.

The only positive in that series was the introduction of Ben Stokes to Ashes cricket. Stokes’ feisty approach and unwillingness to back down was hugely admirable when others around him were wilting under the hot Australian sun, and his stunning 120 at Perth was the highlight of a miserable tour for England fans.

On a pure cricketing note and without the drama and controversy of Stokes’ off-field troubles, on it, England will be short of both a batsman and a bowler. The New Zealand-born Stokes of often provides England with that box office performance with either bat or ball in hand, and without his match-winning potential, England look as though they will be going in a bit light. Their Ashes chances have taken a blow and that is reflected with England backed at 3/1 in cricket betting markets to break a seven year away Ashes drought. They have it all to do but no one can say for certain if Stokes will be there to assist.

It is hard to see how this unwanted attention and focus on the squad won’t be affecting their preparation negatively, although captain Joe Root may see it as a chance to instil a siege mentality within the group. As a result, England may be more of a hardened unit by the time they have to front up in the opening test in Brisbane on the 23rd of November. Over the course of five tests it is impossible to imagine how Stokes won’t be missed.

Stokes hasn’t been entirely ruled out of the Ashes series yet and that is where the problems may be arising from. England need a clear vision of the task at hand and whether Stokes will be a part of it or not. Further uncertainty could have England beaten before they arrive.

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