England must draw a line under Ben Stokes and learn to cope without him | Jason Gillespie

England’s star all-rounder is not on the plane and is not going to play – and given he is irreplaceable the management needs to focus on a Plan B with the first Ashes Test under a month away

There is less than a month to go before England step out into the cauldron of the Gabba to begin their Ashes defence and with the squad touching down in Australia this weekend, you have to wonder whether now would be a sensible time to fully pen a line through the name of Ben Stokes.

Ever since Stokes was arrested in Bristol at the end of September the England and Wales Cricket Board has kept his Ashes place open. Yes he is currently unavailable for selection on full pay and did not fly out to Perth with his team-mates but Andrew Strauss, the team director, has so far opted against ruling him out completely.

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