Joe Root plays down absence of Ben Stokes

England's Joe Root poses with the urn at Lord's Cricket Ground
England's Joe Root poses with the urn at Lord's Cricket Ground

England skipper Joe Root believes his team will not be weighed down by the possible absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes in the initial stage of the upcoming Ashes series.

Stokes was arrested last month after an incident on a night out in Bristol following a one-day international, and released without charge, but remains under police investigation.

The Durham all-rounder did not travel with the rest of the squad but is in line to join his England team-mates later in the series.

Nevertheless, Root, who will be leading England for the first time in the Ashes series insisted that the absence of Stokes will provide an opportunity for another player to make a mark at the top most level.

“We’ve just got to sit tight and wait,” Root told reporters about when or whether that will happen.

”It’s obviously disappointing that Ben’s not going to be with us, but it’s a very strong squad. It gives other guys opportunities to stand up, put their stamp on test cricket and do something special.

”He’s a fine player but I see a squad more than capable of going over there and doing something really special.

“If you don’t believe that you can come back winning there’s no point getting on the plane.”

Despite a successful home season that saw them beat South Africa and West Indies, England struggled to find a settled batting line-up with Tom Westley struggling at number three.

Westley has been left out of the squad and his place is likely to be taken by either Gary Ballance or James Vince while Steven Finn has been added as a cover for Stokes.

“I look everyone in the eye and they’re all very keen to get out there and determined to win and come home successful,” Root added.

England will play three warm-up games before the first Test against Australia that begins on 23rd November in Brisbane.

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