England's Ashes-winning captain from 2005, Michael Vaughan, says the current leader Joe Root may have to con his squad into thinking they can in fact win The Ashes against Australia if Ben Stokes isn't included in the team.
Stokes will not be flying out to Australia on October 28 following his arrest on suspicion of actual bodily harm last month and the hosts have been touted as heavy favourites for the five-Test series as a result.
The squad will assemble next week and Root faces the toughest examination of his relatively short reign as captain to date when the series gets underway at The Gabba in Brisbane on November 23.
The ex-England skipper Vaughan admits Australia will be favorites should Stokes be left out of the squad and is convinced Root will need to deceive his team in order to rally them to a surprising victory.
"His greatest challenge is going to be to convince the team they can win. It may be that he has to lie a bit and con them. Australia are not what they were 20 years ago but they are dangerous," he said, per The Sun.
"He has to make sure they are consistently playing at a level to take the game into days four and five.
"I don’t see them blowing Australia away in three days and thinking they are going to attack all the time.
“If they think they can continue to throw their hands at the ball they will not win in Australia.”
Of course, Vaughan didn't explain exactly how Root can 'con' his teammates but clearly thinks that inspiring belief will be crucial.
How Root and England deal with Stokes' absence could very well determine who lifts the urn Down Under.
Over the last 18 months, the Durham all-rounder has developed into one of England's most consistent performers in all formats of the game.
What are your thoughts on the influence Stokes' absence will have on the outcome of The Ashes?