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Graeme Swann feels all-rounder Ben Stokes will play the Ashes

"You don't. You don't replace him," he said.

Graeme Swann
Graeme Swann. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Specsavers)

Former England spinner Graeme Swann feels Ben Stokes will play the Ashes in Australia as England are unable to directly replace the star all-rounder with any other player. Stokes has not travelled with the squad to Australia and will not be considered for selection until the conclusion of a police investigation following his arrest on suspicion of causing bodily harm after a street fight in Bristol on September 25.

His vice-captaincy has already been taken away and has been replaced by James Anderson. But, Stokes is a key player for England both with the bat and ball in hand. England will seek his service as they will look for a revenge of their 5-0 whitewash in 2013-2014 Ashes in Australia.

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Swann, who won the Ashes in Australia in 2010-2011, announced his retirement after losing three consecutive matches. So, before the beginning of the first Test on November 23, he opines that Stokes should not be overlooked. “Personally I think that Ben will be back and playing in the Ashes – I can’t see any reason where he’s not,” he told Omnisport.

“You know, if he’s not in court then he should be out there. He’s not been charged then he should be playing for England. He’s one of the best players in the world and I fully expect him to be playing,” the off-spinner added.

He also said that if Stokes joins the squad it could tip the balance in England’s favour. “I think it pushes it towards England being favourites if I’m honest, just because of how good he is,” he said of Stokes’ potential impact. “I mean, obviously, he’s a bit out of net because he’s not been playing much cricket but neither is anybody,” Swann mentioned.

Stokes will give advantage to England

England players have insisted that they will remain competitive even if Stokes stays at home, but Swann is less enthusiastic about the prospect of trying to compensate for the Durham player’s absence.

“You don’t. You don’t replace him,” he said. “You just have to build a different-shaped team. A team with Ben Stokes is very easy to build, it’s a very strong team, and I believe he will play so I’m not going to ‘what if’ and postulate on what could happen because I believe he’ll be there,” he further added.

Swann also took a dim view of the barbs being exchanged by some England and Australia players in the media ahead of the first Test, which starts in Brisbane on November 23.

“The war of words, the phoney war has to end soon because it’s just embarrassing isn’t it, some of the comments that have been banded around, like David Warner saying it’s a war. No, it’s not. It’s a game of cricket,” he said. “I mean, it’s pathetic, so let’s just let the cricket start and enjoy the cricket for what it is. It’s a brilliant series and there’s no need for all the boxing trash talk. It’s embarrassing,” Graeme Swann concluded.

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