Ben stokes’ Ashes winter appears to be in jeopardy after England suspended him from all future international matches until further notice.
The match-winning all-rounder will not be considered for selection, the England and Wales cricket Board announced last week, after the governing body saw video footage published on The Sun’s website which allegedly shows Stokes involved in a brawl in Bristol.
With the spotlight firmly on the Durham star, we ask: Should England send Ben Stokes to Australia for the Ashes?
What side are you on in our debate?
Throwing a proven hot head, in front of a merciless Australian crowd, for his first match since a very public and embarrassing incident sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?
But England would rather stomach that than cook up a plan to beat the Baggy Green without their superstar all-rounder. Forget the particulars of what happened – Stokes has clearly breached the trust of the England management, regardless of whether the ongoing criminal investigation clears his name. It may not even be up to the powers-that-be whether he stays or goes as director of cricket Andrew Strauss has handed the reins over to an independent disciplinary committee, though that will only kick into gear once the police are done.
If or when he has served his time, however, it would be foolish not to call upon his services for fear of him being wound up by the Aussies.
Imagine if Manchester United had left Roy Keane at home in 1999 because he was on a yellow card for the semi-final against Juventus. He missed the Champions League final but delivered the performance of his career in doing so.
Shane Warne’s short temper and colourful antics never stopped him from winning an Ashes series or eight.
Whether Stokes is there or not, the problem he has caused will follow England around like a bad Antipodean smell all winter. If they lose, it will be because they are not playing Stokes. If they somehow win, it will be despite the absence of Stokes.
One more muttered swear word caught on a stump mic will see the 26-year-old banned for a Test anyway, but an Ashes series – particularly in Australia – will not be won through meekness. Stokes has undoubtedly created an unfair distraction for his teammates but England might as well use his bottomless talents. If they don’t, in punishing Stokes they will have only gravely punished themselves.
Ben Stokes did whatever he did and it’s up to the authorities to get to the bottom of the alleged brawl in Bristol and uncover the truth. England and Stokes are at the crossroads and both parties need to tread carefully as they attempt to emerge from the saga with minimum damage.
In the meantime, there is an Ashes series creeping up on us and for England, the state of the team is as important as that of Stokes.
The Stokes incident is a sensitive one with possibly serious legal ramifications. And while the England management will provide Stokes whatever help they can under the circumstances, they need to ensure the welfare of the entire squad ahead of the Ashes which starts in Brisbane on November 23.
While there is no doubt Stokes is one of the biggest match-winners in the game at the moment, having him in the Ashes team at this point would be a very bad move. From a cricketing perspective, Stokes can win the series on his own but right now, there are bigger issues on hand.
The all-rounder will have a giant target on his back the moment he sets foot in Australia and he will be open to ‘attacks’ from all fronts – media, opposition players and the general public. Everyone will want a piece of Stokes and that can’t be good for the psyche of a player during such an important series. Even for someone as resilient as Stokes.
If Stokes is a part of the touring England party, the management will have to spend a considerable time shielding him from the outside world. All that time and effort should rather be spent on ensuring the rest of the team stays on track in Australia .
If Stokes survives his current ordeal without too much damage, he can pick up from where he left of. But for now, the England management should steer clear of any explosive situation. Having Stokes Down Under is a recipe for disaster.
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