Ben Stokes won't travel to Australia with England's Ashes squad pending street brawl investigation

Ben Stokes won't travel to Australia with England's Ashes squad pending street brawl investigation

Ben Stokes won't travel to Australia with England's Ashes squad pending street brawl investigation

Updated 7 October 2017, 9:45 AEDT

Controversial England all-rounder Ben Stokes will stay at home as the rest of the squad travels to Australia for this summer's Ashes series, the England Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

The 26-year-old Stokes, England's vice captain and one of their most important players, was suspended after he and teammate Alex Hales were arrested following a punch-up outside a Bristol nightclub last month and released under investigation.

Pace bowler Steven Finn has been added to the Ashes squad and will travel to Australia with the rest of the team on October 28, the ECB said in a statement on its website.

The ECB said no final decision had been made on Stokes' participation in the Test series in Australia.

The five-Test series starts in Brisbane on November 23.

The Bristol street brawl was captured on camera and left a man hospitalised with facial injuries, just hours after Stokes played in England's ODI victory over the West Indies at the Bristol Cricket Ground.

The Sun newspaper published footage of what it said was a brawl between Stokes and two other people, one clutching a bottle.

Should Stokes definitively be ruled out of the tour, it would be a huge blow for England whose chances of defending the Ashes in Australia have already been called into question.

The hosts whitewashed England 5-0 in the last Ashes in Australia in 2013-14, and several pundits have said the tourists have next to no chance without Stokes in their ranks.

"They can't win without him for a number of reasons," Former Australia captain Ian Chappell told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"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 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."

Reuters