Stokes absence a ‘blow’ to England’s hopes of Ashes glory
ECB chief Strauss describes all-rounder's situation as ‘complicated’
Andrew Strauss has called for “clarity” over the police investigation into Ben Stokes as England’s preparations for the Ashes warm up.
The ECB has ruled Stokes out of any involvement in the tour to Australia following his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm outside a Bristol nightclub on September 25.
Director of cricket Strauss admitted the absence of Stokes is a “blow” to England’s hopes of retaining the urn they won on home soil in 2015 but says the prospects of the Durham all-rounder joining up with the squad at some stage remain unclear.
“The situation in a word is complicated,” Strauss told BBC Radio 5 Live. “There’s two different potential disciplinary procedures he has to go through, one is the ECB’s own internal one and the other is any potential police action.
“Until we know more from the police it’s very hard for us to put a timeline on anything. What we all want is clarity on what that situation is and how much cricket he will be missing for England. We’re keen to get into that and move this forward but we’re in the hands of the police.
“Ben has been and is developing into a world-class cricketer. The fact he’s not out in Australia is a blow to the England team.”
Stokes’ absence has been compounded by injuries to Moeen Ali and his replacement in Australia, Steven Finn.
Both missed the opening warm-up game against a Western Australia XI at the weekend, which The Guardian reported ended in a tame draw, and have also been ruled out of the four-day match against a Cricket Australia XI, starting on Wednesday.
The first Test in Brisbane is not until November 23 with Strauss stressing England will be keen to avenge their 5-0 whitewash the last time they travelled to Australia four years ago.
The former England captain added: "I was involved in a 5-0 drubbing in 2006 and I used that as a very strong base for retribution. I'm sure the guys who were there last time and suffered the chastening defeat at the hands of Mitchell Johnson will want to put that right."
Meanwhile, England Women prepared for next week’s Ashes Test by drawing their four-day match with a Cricket Australia XI in Sydney.