The biggest ‘what if’ of the summer so far has been the schools of thought around what difference Ben Stokes would have made to a tame England side that surrendered the Ashes to Australia inside three Test matches.
The one constant amid the conjecture that he would have proven the superhuman addition to the squad needed to close the widening gap between the two sides has been that Stokes would be included in England’s One Day International squad for the series immediately following the Test matches.
Despite the man himself plying his trade for Canterbury in New Zealand while he waits, it now looks more likely that Stokes will be replaced in the squad and withdrawn as unavailable for selection as he waits to be advised on whether or not he will be charged with causing actual bodily harm during a late-night altercation at a Bristol nightclub back in September 2017.
From nightclub brawl to New Zealand domestic cricket
The shocking footage of Stokes assaulting a patron after an alleged verbal attack sent shockwaves through the cricket world and arguably cost England one of their most potent weapons during the Ashes campaign.
Stokes was initially named amongst the squad for the upcoming ODI series but is now likely to be withdrawn in favour of Dawid Malan who has proven one of the few bright spots with bat in hand for England this summer.
No genuine resolution to the situation appears forthcoming until after the Crown Prosecution Service determine whether or not to lay charges on Stokes for the assault incident. The CPS have been pouring over evidence supplied by police but have yet to make a final determination in the subsequent three months since the incident occurred.
Stokes was given permission by the ECB to play for Canterbury in New Zealand while his immediate future was sorted out. The Kiwi-born all-rounder has had a patchy time of it for Canterbury but would have provided some fire and steel to an England side accused of lacking fight.
No objection from the ECB
The ECB are also expected to grant Stokes a no-objection certificate allowing him to compete in the 2018 Indian Premier League. The auction for the IPL takes place at the end of January and is expected to once again make Ben Stokes one of the highest paid stars in the format.
Stokes was a key performer in his maiden IPL last season for Rising Pune Supergiant for whom he signed a 1-year, £1.7 million deal.
Dawid Malan, the man expected to take Stokes’ place in the ODI squad is yet to play a game in that format at international level, but has had a solid Test campaign for England in Australia and was impressive on his Twenty20 international debut last summer.
Three-nil down after a drawn Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, England will be approaching the ODI series as a chance to earn some retribution, a task made significantly harder without Ben Stokes in the side.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?