AFP & Cricket Network
AFP & Cricket Network
All eyes will be on England's Magellan Ashes squad announcement on Wednesday with speculation Ben Stokes could be stripped of the Test vice-captaincy or even left out of the touring party altogether.
England will go ahead in naming a 16-player squad for the five-Test series in Australia on Wednesday morning United Kingdom time (7pm AEST) despite the shock news of Stokes' arrest on suspicion of assault in Bristol.
The 26-year-old was arrested early on Monday in the southwest England city after England's third one-day international against West Indies, before being released under investigation without charge.
The incident sent the British press into hysteria on Tuesday, with The Daily Mirror reporting Stokes' home season and Ashes hopes are "all but over" and suggesting he'd also injured his hand in the alleged scrap.
The Daily Mail have reported that Stokes was sent for an X-ray on his hand, though the England and Wales Cricket Board refused to confirm the injury.
The Telegraph declared England's Ashes preparations are in "chaos" and claimed Stokes could be stripped of the Test vice-captaincy, a title he was given when Joe Root was appointed skipper earlier this year.
Stokes and England batsman Alex Hales, who was with him on Sunday night, will both miss Wednesday's match fourth ODI at The Oval which is due to get underway just two hours after England are to unveil their Ashes squad.
England director of cricket Andrew Strauss said both Stokes and Hales, a fringe candidate who played the last of his 13 Tests 11 months ago, will be considered for the five-match Ashes series on cricketing grounds alone.
"The selectors have been instructed to select the Ashes squad based on form and fitness," Strauss told Sky Sports.
England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan admitted: "It is a big blow. Certainly losing a guy like Ben Stokes is a big one."
Stokes, sent home from an England Lions or A-team tour in Australia in 2012/13 for flouting a ban on late-night drinking, insisted in an an interview with The Times magazine published on Saturday that he would never resort to violence on the field.
He also said he'd have no qualms about having a couple of beers after stumps were drawn.
"There's adrenaline there, but I'd never get close to punching someone," he said.
As for how he relaxed after close of play, Stokes added: "We're grown men, go out for dinner, have a few pints.
"I'm 26, not 14. I don't have to drink Diet Cokes with dinner."
West Indies coach and former Australia batsman Stuart Law, while refusing to comment on Stokes's situation directly, told AFP at The Oval on Tuesday: "Professional cricketers get paid a good wage these days ... they get decent money and along with that comes responsibility."
Batsmen James Vince and Gary Balance meanwhile both look set for recalls to the England's Ashes, with uncapped paceman Craig Overton to also feature according to reports in the UK press.
Seamer Jake Ball, leg-spinner Mason Crane and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes are also set for call-ups, according to both The Telegraph and The Sun, with incumbent No.3 Tom Westley likely to be axed.
England announced on Tuesday that dynamic 'keeper-batsman Sam Billings has been called into their current ODI squad as cover for Hales and Stokes.
Opener Jason Roy is set to replace Hales for the fourth ODI, with pacemen Ball and Tom Curran vying for Stokes's spot as England bid for a series-clinching win.
"We feel we have a strong enough squad to be able to fill that hole," said Morgan.
"It's important we can put it to one side and focus on our cricket."
Likely England Ashes squad: Joe Root (c), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan, Gary Ballance, James Vince, Moeen Ali, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jake Ball, Craig Overton.
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21