Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes England “haven’t got a hope in hell” of winning the Ashes if all-rounder Ben Stokes is sidelined following a street brawl outside a Bristol nightclub.
Stokes, vice-captain of the test side, was named in England’s 16-man squad for the Ashes tour starting in November but was suspended on Thursday until further investigation into the incident.
“They can’t win without him (Stokes) for a number of reasons,” Chappell told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
“Obviously his ability is the main thing, but also, he’s a match-winning player and those sort of players drag the rest along with them and make them better.
“He’s probably one of those players inspired by playing against the better teams and again that has a flow on effect to the fellas that don’t have that sort of confidence. I don’t think they’ve got a hope in hell without him.”
While the Australian side may consider the suspension of Stokes a significant boost to their chances, former captain Allan Border believes the five-match test series would be spoiled without the firebrand all-rounder.
“He is one of those cricketers you would go to watch play,” Border said. “He’s just got something about him, the aggressive nature of his cricket is exciting and it would be a real blow if he doesn’t come.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said whatever the outcome of the case, Stokes has let himself down.
“I am all for players having a bit of downtime,” Vaughan told the BBC. “In the world of cricket, with the players travelling all the time, you do need a bit of downtime, but he (Stokes) has to look himself in the mirror.
“He can have as many talks from the England management, from his wife and his agent, but he has got to understand now what he’s doing and what he’s been involved in the last few days,” Vaughan added.
“I just don’t understand why he would want to be in a bar at 2:30 in the morning on the Monday, before a game on the Wednesday.
“He is putting himself in a place where he is a target. He is a very famous person these days.”
Stokes has been a match-winning figure for the England side since making his debut against Australia in 2013. In 39 tests, he has scored 2,429 runs and picked up 95 wickets.