Joe Root is assembling his troops for the Ashes series in Australia, due to begin on November 13th.
He now has to formulate a plan should he board the plane without Ben Stokes.
The 26-year-old, lauded for his brilliance with both bat and ball, has seen the ramifications of his fiery temper begin to emerge from his latest outburst. After an altercation outside a nightclub in Bristol, he and Alex Hales have been dropped from the international squad without further selection consideration.
Root might not have cause to panic, certainly not if Stokes is reprieved without police charges.
What did Stokes and Hales do?
The CCTV indicates both Stokes and Hales in confrontation with another man outside the nightclub in. The footage suggests that Stokes lands several blows to this man before being restrained by his team-mate.
What if Stokes is charged?
If Stokes is charged by police, the England selection committee is unlikely to allow him onto the plane to Australia.
Replacing him with a like minded player will prove enormously difficult, such is Stokes potence at both ends of the crease. It may even increase England’s reliance on Moeen Ali, given his performances this summer.
Bearing in mind Stokes’ versatility, a like minded replacement would be appropriate. Mark Wood and Toby Roland-Jones would be popular candidates, having made excellent contributions of late, but look set ruled out through injury.
Dawid Malan has drawn some applause as a batsman at number 5, though his bowling remains raw – he has bowled just one over in the entirety of his Test cricket career.
Haseeb Hameed is another who could be considered – but his stats again do not live up to Stokes. He faced intense scrutiny when stepping in as an opening batsman earlier this year. The scrutiny led to his dropping, and injuries have curtailed any form of comeback.
The dominant issue is that there are a distinct lack of all rounders at the disposal of Root, which is where Moeen Ali’s talents may be relied upon further for England to offset the loss of Stokes.
Can England Still Win The Ashes?
Of course. The loss of Stokes is a hit, but they are still armed with talent in the batting order and the bowling order.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are both raring to go, while Alistair Cook is in solid form, alongside Root and even Jonny Bairstow at the batting end.
England will need a sharper edge to their batting and bowling without Stokes, but as much as Australia pose a threat, England are not written off yet.
If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.