Eng­land have no hope with­out win­ner Stokes

Chap­pell writes off tourists’ Ashes chances if all-rounder is kicked out

Sport360 - - Latest News - By Sud­hir Gupta * b @Sport360 editorial@sport360.com

For­mer Aus­tralia cap­tain Ian Chap­pell claims Eng­land “haven’t got a hope in hell” of win­ning the Ashes if mer­cu­rial all-rounder Ben Stokes is forced out of the team fol­low­ing his al­leged in­volve­ment in a brawl out­side a Bris­tol night­club.

Stokes was named in Eng­land’s 16-man squad for the Ashes tour start­ing in Novem­ber but was sus­pended on Thurs­day, along with Alex Hales who was also present, un­til fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.

The all-rounder was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of caus­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm af­ter an in­ci­dent in the early hours of Mon­day morn­ing in the Clifton Tri­an­gle area of Bris­tol.

Stokes’ po­si­tion for the Ashes tour of Aus­tralia is now in ma­jor doubt with Eng­land not only po­ten­tially los­ing their vice cap­tain but also one of their best and most ex­plo­sive crick­eters.

The squad is due to fly Down Un­der on Oc­to­ber 28 ahead of the first Test on Novem­ber 23.

“They can’t win with­out him for a number of rea­sons,” Chap­pell told Aus­tralia’s Daily Tele­graph.

“Ob­vi­ously his abil­ity is the main thing, but also, he’s a match-win­ning player and those sort of play­ers drag the rest along with them and make them bet­ter.

“He’s prob­a­bly one of those play­ers in­spired by play­ing against the bet­ter teams and again that has an ef­fect to the fel­las that don’t have that sort of con­fi­dence. I don’t think they’ve got a hope in hell with­out him.”

The pos­si­bil­ity of fac­ing an Eng­land team with­out Stokes may be great news for Aus­tralia but ac­cord­ing to for­mer cap­tain Allan Bor­der, the five-match Test se­ries would be poorer with­out the all-rounder.

“He is one of those crick­eters you would go to watch play,” Bor­der said.

“He’s just got some­thing about him, the ag­gres­sive na­ture of his cricket is ex­cit­ing and it would be a real blow if he doesn’t come.”

For­mer Eng­land opener Michael Ather­ton said Stokes’ un­avail­abil­ity for the Ashes would be dev­as­tat­ing for Joe Root’s side’s chances Down Un­der.

“If Eng­land must do with­out him, they will be badly dam­aged be­fore a ball has been bowled (in Aus­tralia),” Ather­ton wrote in The Times.

“In one sense Eng­land need Stokes more than he needs them, as he is among the first gen­er­a­tion who can play Twenty20 tour­na­ments rather than Tests to en­joy a lu­cra­tive career.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Aus­tralian me­dia have pro­vided con­sid­er­able com­men­tary to the Stokes in­ci­dent and its sub­se­quent fall­out.

Cricket writer Mal­colm Knox has even sug­gested the ECB’s re­fusal to pu­n­ish Stokes re­veals a desperation for win­ning the urn.

Knox wrote in the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald: “That ag­o­nised moan­ing heard from Lord’s around the world is not a group yoga ses­sion loos­en­ing some stiff up­per lips, but English cricket au­thor­i­ties con­tort­ing them­selves into a pret­zel in an at­tempt to re­tain both Ben Stokes and their prin­ci­ples.

“Eng­land’s des­per­ate de­sire to win the se­ries in Aus­tralia can be mea­sured by Stokes not hav­ing been sacked by Wed­nes­day.

“Mak­ing the all-im­por­tant pre­sump­tion that Stokes is the same red­head known as “Stokes” in the video of this week’s in­ci­dent in Bris­tol, throw­ing punches in the street, vis­i­bly in­tim­i­dat­ing his vic­tims, while his team-mate Alex Hales is al­legedly beg­ging him to stop, the case is surely open and shut.

“And yet … and yet … Stokes is an in­cal­cu­la­bly im­por­tant crick­eter to Eng­land and to the Ashes se­ries over­all. Stokes is ar­guably the most tal­ented player across both teams and the most likely in­di­vid­ual key to the out­come.”

Mean­while, po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing Stokes’ ar­rest have ap­pealed for in­for­ma­tion from “two spe­cific wit­nesses” who are be­lieved to have been present prior to the in­ci­dent.

He was re­leased with­out charge on Thurs­day but has re­mained un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Avon & Som­er­set Po­lice ever since, with team-mate Hales re­turn­ing vol­un­tar­ily to Bris­tol to pro­vide ev­i­dence.

The Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board is also con­duct­ing an in­ter­nal dis­ci­plinary in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Bris­tol in­ci­dent.

The ECB, af­ter see­ing video footage ob­tained by The Sun news­pa­per which al­legedly shows Stokes throw­ing punches in a street fight, said nei­ther man would be con­sid­ered for se­lec­tion un­til fur­ther no­tice.

Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Avon and Som­er­set Po­lice is­sued an up­dated ap­peal which read: “We be­lieve there are two spe­cific wit­nesses, both men, with in­for­ma­tion about what hap­pened in the mo­ments prior to the dis­or­der who are yet to come for­ward and we’d ap­peal for them to do so as soon as pos­si­ble.”

“Those sort of play­ers drag the rest along with them” – Chap­pell

Sticky wicket: Ben Stokes is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the po­lice and the ECB over his night­club fra­cas.

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