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No Stokes is not no Ashes hope if England stick together in Australia | Vic Marks

The 2017 Ashes tourists are not as high maintenance as the 2013 squad but, with only seven cast-iron Test cricketers, their plans must be unusually fluid

The arrival of late October and the departure of England’s team to Australia can do funny things to the most pragmatic of cricketing folk. Forget mists and mellow fruitfulness. This is the time of year for dreams and blind optimism when somehow, discounting all evidence to the contrary, the English at home persuade themselves that at the end of the first week in January England will have the Ashes secured after a gobsmackingly brilliant victory in the final Test. Solid cricketing common sense can easily be subsumed by wayward wish fulfilment when the Ashes are up for grabs. Maybe that is part of the allure.

This will be the 10th time your correspondent has been in Australia – in various guises – when the Ashes are being contested there. Out of those nine series England have won twice – in 1986-87 (I did my best to console Western Australia team-mates returning to Perth after another defeat by Mike Gatting’s motley band) and in 2010-11 under Andrew Strauss. Australia have won the rest.

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