England are planning their Ashes campaign on the assumption that Ben Stokes will not be with them.
No charges have been laid against the dynamic all-rounder, who was arrested after a late-night brawl in September, but until the case is settled, the former vice-captain will not be considered for selection.
‘We’ve got to plan as if he’s not going to be there for the whole series,’ said England captain Joe Root. ‘It’s an ongoing investigation, we’re very much in the dark in what’s happening. So as a side we have to make sure we plan accordingly and approach this as our squad.
‘Ben offers a lot to the team, but as I said, it’s an opportunity for other guys to stand up. In difficult situations, a lot of the time, people do surprise themselves and surprise you.’
Alongside the matter of Stokes and Alex Hales being out late in Bristol, England issued written warnings and fines to Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett for unprofessional conduct during the ODI series against West Indies. Root, while stressing that the players were grown-up enough to ensure similar problems don’t arise in Australia, said it was not the plan to keep everyone ‘cooped up’ while on tour.
‘That would be a negative way to go about touring a great country. Being able to enjoy touring Australia, it is really important go and enjoy the downtime we do get and enjoy the whole nature of touring, because you don’t get many opportunities to go and play in an Ashes series in Australia. It’s something you want to look back on and say you approached it in the right way, and gave yourself the best chance to be successful and hopefully come away with some fantastic memories.’
The first Test starts 23 November.