Suspended England allrounder Ben Stokes has launched himself into the pre-Ashes war of words, taking aim at former Australia opener Matthew Hayden.
Stokes has been increasingly active on social media in the past few days as speculation mounts he is set for a mid-series appearance in the Magellan Ashes, posting a series of videos of him bowling and batting in the nets at Chester-le-Street, the home ground of his county side, Durham.
Discussing the England Ashes squad on a Brisbane Heat podcast, the bullish Queensland opener Hayden pulled no punches, saying: "The Poms are a rabble.
"I look down half of the list and I honestly don't even know who half of these guys are."
Hayden said only veteran names like Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and captain Joe Root were recognisable.
Stokes, whose only tweets since being arrested following a wild street brawl in Bristol that saw a 27-year-old man require hospital treatment had been an apology to a reality television personality for mocking her disabled son and a Remembrance Day tribute, took to the platform to slam Hayden.
"Hayden says he doesn't know who half our squad is … only 2 from the quad haven't played at International level," Stokes wrote, questioning Hayden's standing as a cricket commentator.
Hayden says he doesn't know who half our squad is....only 2 from the squad haven't played at International level.....he's a cricket pundit yeah??🤔🤔🤔🤔 https://t.co/5UVT0jRQMY— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) November 20, 2017
Of England's 17-man squad – of which Stokes remains a part of, despite being suspended and awaiting the outcome of a police investigation into his late-night altercation – back-up wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and fast bowler Craig Overton have yet to be capped by England.
Overton could yet debut at the Gabba, in a battle to be England's fourth seamer with Jake Ball, who declared he is fully fit again after rolling his ankle in the Adelaide tour match.
Hayden, though, was unimpressed, particularly of England's inexperienced middle order of Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan.
"What (England) have got is some extremely experienced fast bowlers in Broad and Anderson. You have two particularly good batsmen as well in Cook and Joe Root.
"Apart from that — you throw a blanket over those four — who are they?
"If I was the captain I'd be saying to Mitch Starc that when those four (English) players are there, you are just there to break them," Hayden continued.
"Whatever it takes, break them, especially at the Gabba.
"If any one of those guys go, England have got no hope. And I don't think they have any hope anyway."
The momentum for Stokes to return has been steadily gathering pace with no movement from the Avon & Somerset Police who are investigating the Bristol brawl.
Chris Rogers, another former Australia opener, said he believe Stokes would feature in the third Test in Perth.
"I heard he will be coming out," Rogers told Sportsday Radio. "I heard he won't be playing the first two Tests."
"Whether that (two-Test absence) is through suspension or if he still has a bit of an injury, I'm not too sure," Rogers said, referencing the hand injury Stokes allegedly sustained in the street fight.
ECB Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss is due to arrive in Australia this week ahead of Thursday's opening Test match.
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
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 Stadium, 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 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21