Stokes named in Ashes squad despite minor hand fracture

England squad
The Ashes
Venue: Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney Dates: 23 November – 7 January
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

England have included vice-captain Ben Stokes in their 16-man Ashes Test squad despite his arrest on Monday.

The all-rounder, 26, has a minor finger fracture on his right hand after an incident outside a nightclub in Bristol but is expected to be fit for the tour.

Hampshire batsman James Vince and Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance are recalled, but Essex’s Tom Westley misses out.

Uncapped Somerset seamer Craig Overton, 23, is preferred to Mark Wood, who remains troubled by an ankle injury.

Stokes was held on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in the early hours of Monday morning.

He was detained overnight after the team’s victory in the third one-day international against West Indies and will not be available for the fourth ODI on Wednesday.

England, who were whitewashed 5-0 on their last tour of Australia, are looking to defend the Ashes which they regained on home soil in 2015.

The series begins in Brisbane on 23 November.

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England squad for Ashes tour of Australia

Joe Root (capt, Yorkshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (wk, Yorkshire), Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Alastair Cook (Essex), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Ben Foakes (wk, Surrey), Dawid Malan (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Ben Stokes (Durham), Mark Stoneman (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).

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The squad to tour Australia also contains opener Mark Stoneman, who became the 12th man in the space of five years to partner Alastair Cook when he made his debut against the Windies in August.

Ballance is restored after suffering a broken finger in the second Test defeat by South Africa in July and is set to battle with Vince and Middlesex’s Dawid Malan for two spots in the middle order.

Uncapped Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane provides back-up for first-choice spinner Moeen Ali, while Surrey’s Ben Foakes, also uncapped is Jonny Bairstow’s deputy as wicketkeeper.

With Wood and Middlesex’s Toby Roland-Jones (stress fracture of the back) missing, Overton and Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball make up the fast bowlers with regulars James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.

The seamers will work with former New Zealand pace bowler Shane Bond, who has been appointed as fast bowling consultant for the first two Tests of the tour after former bowling coach Ottis Gibson’s departure to become South Africa head coach.

Former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood also joins the coaching set-up down under for the Tests and ODIs, with Kent coach Matt Walker assisting for the subsequent Twenty20 tri-series in Australia and New Zealand.

England in Australia 2017-18 – Ashes Tests
23-27 November – 1st Test, Brisbane (00:00 GMT)
2-6 December – 2nd Test, Adelaide (d/n) (04:00 GMT)
14-18 December – 3rd Test, Perth (Waca) (02:30 GMT)
26-30 December – 4th Test, Melbourne (23:30 GMT, 25-29 Dec)
4-8 January – 5th Test, Sydney (23:30 GMT, 3-7 Jan)

‘One of the weakest squads I’ve seen’

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on BBC Radio 5 live

This is one of the weakest squads I’ve seen. The dilemma facing the selectors has been known for months and the scale of the top-order batting problem is laid bare.

James Vince returns after an unspectacular summer in country cricket and a run of seven Tests last year that produced an average of 19. He’s expected to bat at three.

Gary Ballance is averaging 19 from his last 12 Tests. He’s pressing Dawid Malan – averaging 23 from five Tests for number five.

The pressure on Alastair Cook and Joe Root in this series will be immense, and that’s without taking the current uncertainty created by Ben Stokes’ predicament into account.

Craig Overton was preferred to Liam Plunkett’s genuine pace and Mason Crane is a gamble. A young wrist-spinner as back-up, really?

Are England right to pick Stokes?

Ben Stokes

Former England captain David Gower on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

Stokes would have been written on that list within milliseconds as the pivotal man in that team.

When you’ve got a Ben Stokes who can bat, bowl, take brilliant catches, who is that sort of inspirational figure pretty much whatever he does on the field, you want him there at all times.

We know he’s got the sort of character on the field that in effect leads the team. I had the same sort of experience and memories from Ian Botham 30 years ago.

Andrew Strauss was right that as it stands then they have no choice to pick the team which they would have done three or four days ago anyway.

Former England captain Alec Stewart on BBC Radio 5 live

100% you pick him, and he stays vice-captain until more details come out.

I would also be sitting him down and saying “once you take a position of leadership, massive responsibility comes with that role”.

It’s a lot harder without him. Without him you take away one of your massive match-winners.

Vince tried again in middle order

James Vince

Along with multiple opening partners for Cook, England have struggled long struggled to fill gaps in the middle order, particularly at numbers three and five.

Right-hander Vince, 26, played seven Tests against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in 2016, but was dropped after averaging only 19.27.

His recall comes after a summer where he has averaged 34.82 for Hampshire in the County Championship.

“The selectors are backing James to make an impact on his recall to the Test squad,” said national selector James Whitaker. “He is a quality strokeplayer and we believe his game will suit the Australian pitches.

“His understanding of the England set-up will help him settle into the environment quickly and hit the ground running when we arrive in Perth next month.”

Inexperienced back-up

Craig Overton

Following the 2-0 Test series win against West Indies, England coach Trevor Bayliss said that the selectors were unlikely to look beyond players who had been involved with the Test side for the past “12 or 18 months” when the Ashes squad was chosen.

Still, back-up in Australia will be provided by Overton and Foakes, preferred to the likes of Steven Finn and Jos Buttler respectively.

Crane has played two Twenty20 internationals and was in the squad for all three Tests against the Windies, moving ahead of Adil Rashid and Liam Dawson in the pecking order as Moeen’s understudy.

“Ben Foakes deserves his selection for the first time at this level. His glovework has been exemplary and he is regarded as a wicketkeeper of the highest quality,” said Whitaker.

“He has the ability to contribute with the bat scoring over 680 runs in the Championship this summer at an average of 45.33.

“We have been impressed with the way Craig Overton has led Somerset’s attack over a long period of time. He has taken 43 Championship wickets this summer and will relish playing in Australian conditions.”

England will name a back-up Lions squad to tour Australia next Monday, 2 October, while the ODI squad will be announced two days later, along with the central contract allocation for 2017-18.

Ben Foakes

How tough will England’s task be?

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