The timing of the Ben Stokes altercation in the early hours could not have been worse with the Ashes only 6 weeks away, it’s one of those occasions when the ECB could wish they could just erase it and sweep it under the table, but it’s not as simple as that. I wrote in my last blog praising Andrew Strauss for the way he handled the situation. At the time we had no idea what had happened until the videos of the scene started circulating around the media. I have spoken to people in the media, read several reports online and in the press, the police are currently gathering all the evidence of what happened. You can be sure the press will be looking at any wrong doing by any player including dragging up any misdemeanours of Ben Stokes from the past which will have no relevance to now.
From what we know there could be several conclusions if it drags on he could not go to the Ashes as his head will be all over the place mentally and in no frame to play test cricket. Nor will he go if he is charged but if it is affray he could go, but in my opinion I think he will be disciplined by the ECB – perhaps a six month ban. I will be amazed if he does go, he will need help through this, the England management team will have to revise late nights out etc. but believe me I would love him out there!
It’s not all over by any stretch, Stark has a injury a reoccurrence of a heal problem – that’s twice this year- and James Pattinson (bowler) will miss the Ashes series following a recurrence of a back injury. The wickets in Australia are rock solid not spongy like here, their side is ageing, even the sledging has started with Jim Maxwell stating that their bowlers are quicker and the Aussies will win 5-0. Half of their bowlers are or have been having injury problems, I think if Jimmy just bowls straight aiming for off stump then who knows? He has only had one injury so I expect him to fully tuned in on taking wickets with the help of Broady, Woaksie, and Moeen. On a drying wicket we have a chance, I’m expecting an extra bowler to replace Stokes, maybe Plunkett? He can bat a bit as well, but we always have the option of drafting in Mark Wood who has had his fill of injuries from the Lions squad who are in Australia at the same time. He does have genuine pace, as for the batting, people forget we have the most prolific run scorer in test cricket in England with Cook and Root probably the current 2nd best batsman in World Cricket after Kohli Root will be chomping at the bit to get at them, on hard wickets it favours the pull and hook, Cook plays of the back foot so will be suited by the conditions and Root will come into his own. Plus we all know we have wonderful mid to tail batsman, but will need to improve on the 16 dropped catches against the West Indies and a bit of Lady Luck so all is not lost yet, just be positive and get behind the 3 Lions!! There is still space in Perth, Melbourne and a little in Sydney join us there for what promises to be an interesting series.
All the Best