Ben Stokes will not be part of England’s Ashes touring party, the ECB have announced.
Andrew Strauss, director of England Cricket, confirmed that the allrounder will not travel with the squad at this stage, although no final decision has been taken on his involvement in Australia, with the police investigation and ECB inquiry ongoing.
To emphasise that no conclusion has been reached on Stokes and Alex Hales, both have been included as planned on England’s list of centrally contracted players.
But in an acceptance of the possibility that Stokes will not play a part in the Ashes tour, Steven Finn has been added to the squad for the full five-match series, leaving on October 28.
Finn has been preferred to other popular candidates such as Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood – though Wood, who was unable to prove his fitness for the beginning of the series, will at least be on hand in Australia with England Lions and could be involved in the latter stages.
Strauss said: “With the Ashes just around the corner, it’s important to give the players, the coaching staff and supporters some clarity around a complex situation.
“This decision will help us in the weeks ahead and give every player and the whole England set-up the best chance to focus on the challenge ahead in Australia.
“Steven is a high-quality cricketer, with considerable experience of both international cricket and Australian conditions. The Selectors believe he will add to the range of options and the squad will be further supported by the arrival of the Lions in Australia in November.
“We have spoken to Ben and assured him that our decision in no way prejudges the outcome of the ongoing Police investigation or Cricket Discipline Commission process, as can be seen by the award of central contracts.”