Steve Waugh has become the latest major voice to suggest that England didn’t have a chance of winning the Ashes without Ben Stokes and that the under-fire allrounder would have been dumped immediately if he had been Australian.
Stokes was arrested last month in Britain on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and suspended from internationals until further notice following a fight outside a nightclub.
He was included in the Ashes touring party but the England and Wales Cricket Board last week said he would not travel with the rest of the players when they leave on October 28.
Waugh, who led Australia to 41 wins in 57 Tests as captain in a glittering career, said England would not be the same threat without Stokes. “If he doesn’t come, I don’t think they can win the Ashes,” Waugh told Sky Sports Radio.
While Stokes hasn’t been charged yet, he remained under investigation, and Waugh hit out at England’s failure to immediately drop him from the Ashes squad.
“I think if it was anyone in the Australian side, they wouldn’t be picked. You can’t do that these days in public. It just didn’t look good and it’s a bad image for the game,” said Waugh.
“I think they (England selectors) are pretty keen for him to play in Australia … he’s probably their best player, so it would be a real shame if he’s not out here.”
Stokes’s absence from the five-Test series, starting in Brisbane on November 23, would be a huge blow for Ashes-holders England, who have lost two out of their past three tours 5-0.
“Without Ben Stokes, we’ll win,” stressed Waugh. “It’s too much pressure on (Stuart) Broad and (James) Anderson, and they’re getting a bit older, and I can’t see them playing five Test matches straight. I think Australia will win 3-1.”