The highly anticipated and one of the most prestigious tournaments in the history of cricket, The Ashes is about to commence on November 23 at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Both the Australian and England national teams are ready to resume their rivalry in order to secure the highest honour.
However, there is currently a key man missing from the visitors’ line-up.
England vice-captain Ben Stokes has been omitted from the Ashes squad, after being involved in a brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol on September 25.
He was arrested but was later released, although he remains suspended by the ECB whilst under police investigation.
Video footage has surfaced showing the English all-rounder punching two men, with teammate Alex Hales for company.
The ECB have since withdrawn his name from the squad travelling to Australia, attempting to completely co-operate with the police in their full investigation.
A vital member of the England squad, the loss of such an influential figure surely would have an impact in the dressing room.
The ECB Director of Cricket, Andrew Strauss has spoken for the first time regarding Stokes, labelling his absence as a ‘blow’ to the team ahead of The Ashes.
The 40-year-old was quoted by BBC Sport saying: “The situation in a word is complicated.
“There's two different potential disciplinary procedures he has to go through, one is the ECB's internal one and the other is any potential police action.
“Until we know more from the police, it's very hard for us to put a timeline on anything."
The two things Strauss wants to know
“What we all want is clarity on what that situation is and how much cricket he will be missing for England," continued Strauss. "We're keen to get into that and move this forward but we're in the hands of the police.
“Ben has been and is developing into a world-class cricketer. The fact he's not out there at the moment is a blow to the England team.”
Closure is something the England team are desperate for - Stokes could still have a role to play at the Ashes but his future is still up in the air.
England currently hold the Ashes after their 3-2 home success in 2015, although recent tours Down Under have produced underwhelming results, to say the least.
Their most recent trip to Australia resulted in a humiliating 5-0 whitewash.
Only time will tell what the future holds for 26-year-old Englishman and missing the action at such an important juncture of his career is indeed a major drawback, not only for his country but also for his own career.
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