Joe Root may have to “con” England into believing they win the Ashes without talisman Ben Stokes, according to Michael Vaughan.
Former England captain Vaughan insists Australia will be overwhelming favourites to win the Ashes should the tourists be shorn of all-rounder Stokes for the opening Test.
Stokes could miss the first clash that starts on November 23 owing to the fall-out from his Bristol arrest in September for actual bodily harm that left him with a broken finger.
And ex-England skipper Vaughan believes current captain Root must find a way to galvanise his side against the Aussies if Stokes misses out.
“His greatest challenge is going to be to convince the team they can win,” said Vaughan, of England captain Root.
“It may be that he has to lie a bit and con them.
“He might have to blow up a few tyres that might be flat and convince them they are good enough to beat this Australian team.
“I don’t think it is right to go there and talk down the Aussies. I’ve been around captains that do that and it doesn’t work.
“It is worth saying they are good. They are not what they were 20 years ago but they are dangerous and you know what they will produce over five matches.
“You know they will have a bit of magic in them and can Joe convince his players to play a style of cricket over a period to win.
“The problem with this Test team over the last two years is they have had moments where we have all thought they were brilliant and then the week after, like at Headingley (in defeat to West Indies), you have thought ‘what the hell was that?’
“He has to make sure they are consistently playing at a level to take the game into days four and five. I don’t see them blowing Australia away in three days.”
Vaughan hailed Stokes as England’s second-best batsman, behind skipper Root, and admitted fearing the tourists would lose confidence in his absence.
“I am sure Australia respect a lot of our players but the one they fear the most is not going to be there,” said Vaughan, speaking as a BT Sport pundit.
“I’ve not seen too many celebrations from the Australians but I am sure in private they have cracked open a few bottles of Penfold.
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