English cricket bosses hint Ben Stokes could make Ashes return – Daily Telegraph

CRICKET chiefs have opened the door to Ben Stokes making a shock return to the England team and playing in the Ashes.

Stokes is currently banned over his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in a late-night brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol.

But the ECB appear to be softening their stance, with the police expected to announce this week whether Stokes will be charged.

The 26-year-old all-rounder has stayed at home while the rest of the England squad are in Australia preparing for the first Ashes Test, which starts in Brisbane on November 23.

Stokes is waiting to hear if he will be charged after over the late-night fracas in Bristol on September 25, with a decision expected this week.

media_cameraBen Stokes could be shown leniency by the ECB and make a shock Ashes return.

If he is not charged by the police then the ECB’s disciplinary process will kick in.

And the ECB have opened the door to the Durham star making an amazing return to the team by saying he could “rehabilitate his reputation on the field”.

ECB Tom Harrison said: “We have to get that balance between censure and support absolutely right.

“Cricket’s response to this will show the value of the game in the best light.

“We will quickly recover to where the game is seen as doing its best to rehabilitate reputations on the field, and try to get Ben and Alex [Hales] back to where fans are really behind them.”

Stokes, who fractured the little finger of his right hand during the incident in Bristol, is training at indoor nets in case he is given a dramatic recall.

media_cameraCCTV vision of Ben Stokes fighting with two men in a Bristol Street. Picture via The Sun

Vice-captain Stokes was initially named in England’s 16-man touring squad for the Test series, but was replaced by Steven Finn after The Sun’s exclusive video showed Stokes in a brawl.

Former Australia bowler Glenn McGrath said England will miss their “enforcer” if they are without Stokes for the entire tour.

“He’s an incredible player — he fills two spots in one,” Test Match Special pundit McGrath told BBC Radio 5 live.

“If he doesn’t come out, that’s a big loss to England. But he’s vice-captain, he can’t put himself in those positions. He’s got to realise that.

“He’s an enforcer within the team and that’s fine on the field as long as it stays there.

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“Who would be the enforcer in his shoes?”

Meanwhile, England fast bowler Stuart Broad said Stokes will still be an influence on the squad, even if he does not travel to Australia.

“We’ve still got his character within the group,” Broad said.

“We’ve still got his characteristics of competitive sport, of arm round people that he’s done for years still in this group.

“Without sounding cheesy Ben Stokes is still here, we’ve still got part of him in this group whether he’s in Australia or not.”

England reached 278 for 8 on the opening day of their day-night warm-up game in Adelaide against a Cricket Australia XI.

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