Root: England can retain Ashes without Stokes
Joe Root knows England can only "sit tight and wait" to see if Ben Stokes can play in the Ashes but challenged his team-mates to "put their stamp on Test cricket" if the all-rounder is unable to showcase his talents in Australia.
England were due to board the flight Down Under without Stokes on Friday after the Test vice-captain was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol last month.
Stokes was named in the touring party, despite suffering a minor fracture of his hand, but it is up in the air as to whether he will be permitted to feature in the five-match series as a police investigation is ongoing.
Speaking to reporters before heading out to Australia on Friday, captain Root spoke of his confidence that England can retain the urn with or without Stokes.
"We've just got to sit tight and wait," said the England skipper.
"It's obviously disappointing that Ben's not going to be with us, but it's a very strong squad. It gives other guys opportunities to stand up, put their stamp on Test cricket and do something special.
"He's a fine player but I see a squad more than capable of going over there and doing something really special.
"If you don't believe that you can come back winning, there's no point getting on the plane."
Root also dismissed talk of a drinking culture existing in the England camp following an incident involving Stokes in the early hours of the morning which also led to Alex Hales being suspended.
"We will sit down and make sure nothing like this happens again, we know it wasn't good enough," he added.
"I don't think there is a drinking culture but we will address the issue, we are grown men and we will make sure things like this don't happen again."