Smith criticises Stokes's off-field behaviour, praises ability
Australia captain Steve Smith has criticised Ben Stokes for his off-field behaviour that could see the England all-rounder miss the Ashes.
Ben Stokes is "one of the best players" in the world according to Steve Smith, but the Australia captain hopes none of his players behave like the England all-rounder off the pitch.
Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol last month, although he was released under investigation without charge.
The 26-year-old duly missed England's last two one-day internationals and sole Twenty20 against West Indies.
However, he was named in the touring party for the upcoming Ashes series that starts at The Gabba on November 23.
But it remains to be seen whether he will travel Down Under after being suspended by the ECB until the conclusion of the police investigation.
Losing Stokes would be a massive blow for England and a psychological boost for Australia, but Smith still hopes the controversial figure lines up in Brisbane.
"Whether he comes or not, that's out of our control," Smith told ABC Radio.
"You always want to come up against the best and test your skills against the best. That's what Test cricket is all about.
"There's no doubt Ben Stokes is one of the best players around the world at the moment."
Smith added: "I certainly don't condone that kind of behaviour. Hopefully it never happens to one of our boys."
Whether Stokes plays or not, Smith remains confident Australia's brittle bowling attack will come good to wrestle back the urn across the five-Test series.
"Two guys [Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins] who bowl 150-plus kilometres an hour and Josh Hazlewood bowling 140 and doing what he does," Smith said.
"That is a big advantage for us. They're three big players for us and if they turn it on throughout this series, I think we'll have a lot of success and take a lot of wickets."