Ben Stokes’ Ashes hopes could be gone after copping England suspension

By , Reuters is a Roar Guru

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    Ben Stokes’ fading Ashes prospects may hinge on the next stage of police investigations after England suspended him and Alex Hales from all future international matches until further notice.

    The announcement came a day after Stokes, England’s highest-profile cricketer and vice-captain of the Test side, was named in the 16-man squad for the Ashes tour of Australia starting in November.

    The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement that both Stokes and Hales remained on full pay pending further investigation into the incident in the early hours of Monday.

    Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and then released without charge under investigation on Monday, but has remained under investigation ever since. Hales was with him at the time of the incident.

    “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be considered for selection for England international matches until further notice,” the ECB said.

    “These decisions, fully supported by ECB chairman Colin Graves, were made following the release of footage viewed by ECB for the first time on Wednesday night.”

    The Sun newspaper published footage of what it said was a brawl between the player and two other people, one clutching a bottle.

    Media reports said Stokes, who suffered a minor fracture of a finger on his right hand, had apologised to the ECB for his arrest and described his state of mind as “fragile and devastated”.

    Should the 26-year-old definitively be ruled out of the tour, it would be a huge blow for England whose chances of defending the Ashes in Australia have already been called into question.

    The hosts whitewashed England 5-0 in 2013/14.

    It will fall largely to coach Trevor Bayliss to ensure England set aside ongoing distractions – which, the Australian admits, are substantial.

    Bayliss is no stranger to first-hand stress, having been caught up eight years ago in the deadly terror attack on the team bus in Lahore while he was coach of Sri Lanka.

    Asked how tough he would describe the challenge of the past few days, the 54-year-old said: “It’s right up – it’s probably in the top two [in my cricket career], I would have thought.

    “It’s very difficult for everyone involved.

    “It’s something that obviously we didn’t want to go through, and hope we don’t go through again.”

    © Reuters 2017

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