Australia spinner Steve O’Keefe says that an England team without Ben Stokes is undoubtedly a weaker side. Stokes’ recent arrest alongwith fellow England player Alex Hales for an alleged assault in a pub has raised questions over his immediate future with the England Test side.
“Stokes is the best allrounder in the world and he had a successful summer when he came out last time (in 2013),” said O’Keefe, “I think he was one of the standout players against the Aussies and got that hundred at the WACA and I think he’s probably in the best form of his career. So an England side without Ben Stokes is not a better side,” he is quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“I’m only reading the papers and as the facts state at the moment, there hasn’t been any charges that have been laid,” said O’Keefe, “I guess they’re calling on witnesses to come forward. So it’s probably a bit early to speculate, but given the fact a couple of players have missed a game it’s obviously deemed serious enough. And fingers crossed it will get sorted out appropriately, it’s in the right hands. But some of the speculation about missing Ben Stokes and Alex Hales, they’re a couple of talented players that you’d love to see come out to Australia. So I hope for their sakes that it doesn’t impede on their cricketing futures.”
England are two months away from the Ashes against Australia and Stokes had been confirmed by the England and Wales Cricket Board as part of the squad for the tour. He has also retained his vice-captaincy.