Ben Stokes to be withdrawn from Ashes if inquiry continues till start of tour
The 26-year-old will be removed from the 16-man team if the police inquiry doesn't end by the time the Ashes starts
What’s the story?
England all-rounder Ben Stokes will be withdrawn from the Ashes if the ongoing police investigation on him doesn’t end by the time the series starts. If the police does make a decision before the start of the tournament, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will have to evaluate the outcome and decide on Stokes’ availability themselves.
In case you didn’t know…
In the wee hours of September 25, Stokes allegedly punched a 27-year-old man several times outside Mbargo Club in Bristol, resulting in the victim requiring hospital treatment for the facial injuries he sustained. Stokes himself injured his hand, and was withdrawn from his side’s next ODI against West Indies but was named in the 16-man Ashes squad.
The heart of the matter
If the currently ongoing investigation, the duration of which cannot be determined yet, overlaps with the Ashes, then Stokes will have to forego his place in the Ashes side. His teammate, Alex Hales, is also under the scanner, but has not found a place in the Test side.
The investigation by the Avon and Somerset police might go on for months, putting pressure on the Cricket Discipline Commission to make a decision before the squad departs on October 28.
While no official confirmation has been made regarding the same, BBC has reported that if the investigation continues by the time the first ball is bowled, Stokes will not be part of the English team.
Despite being whitewashed on their previous tour to Australia, England will look to regain the Ashes won by them in 2015 on home soil. The series begins with a practice game at Perth starting November 4, followed by the opening Test at Brisbane commencing on November 23.
Several former cricketers have vehemently condemned the actions of the 26-year-old all-rounder, who is known for his hot-headed nature. While an apologetic Stokes has admitted that he is ‘devastated and fragile’ with the turn of events, his actions are unpardonable and should he should be handed a harsh penalty, starting with his omission from the Ashes.
By removing him from the squad, the ECB will, first and foremost, remove the limelight from one man’s misdeeds, helping the side get over the incident and start their preparation for the tournament in earnest. This will also send a strong statement regarding the repercussions of international cricketers crossing the line and toying with the boundaries of decency and discipline.