Michael Hussey urges England to take moral decision to leave Ben Stokes out

England face a conflicting decision if Stokes is deemed available for selection before the completion of the Ashes.

Michael Hussey
Michael Hussey. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Former Australian cricketer Michael Hussey has advised England to take “the moral decision” with regards to suspended Ben Stokes and leave him out of the upcoming Ashes series as he believes Joe Root and Co. are capable of retaining the Ashes urn even without the star all-rounder.

However, Hussey thinks hosts Australia have an upper hand in the campaign and the tourists would still have to toil in order for everything to fall into place for the tourists if they were to succeed without their impactful vice-captain.

Presently, Stokes’ involvement in the five-Test series remains in the hands of the Avon and Somerset Police as they continue their investigations into a late-night brawl in which the 26-year-old was allegedly involved last September. With the series set to commence next week in Brisbane, England and Ben Stokes himself would really be hoping for a development in favour soon.

While Stokes was named in the England Ashes squad that was announced after the investigation was launched, he remains suspended until the police give out the outcome of their inquiry after the all-rounder was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm before being released without charge.

The investigation is on

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) independent Cricket Discipline Commission is conducting its own investigation simultaneously but it is unlikely that they will hand down a judgement until the police have indicated the course of action they will take. As a result, Stokes and his England teammate Alex Hales remain ineligible for selection, although there have been multiple reports indicating that the Test vice-captain might finally in feature the touring squad for the third Ashes Test that begins in Perth in mid-December.

Hussey claims that England face a conflicting decision if Stokes is deemed available for selection before the completion of the Ashes campaign in early January, and will need to choose between the needs of their cricket team and the broader ethical implications of Stokes’s alleged involvement in the incident.

“It’s a difficult one,” Hussey told the latest episode of The Unplayable Podcast on Cricket Australia. “In my mind, if you’re in the England camp, you’re wrestling with two things. The moral decision is … the footage looks pretty bad, he’s going to have a lot on his mind with the investigation, perhaps he’s better off just not coming at all,” he added.

“Give someone else an opportunity to become an Ashes hero, really make a name for himself, just leave him (Stokes) back home and don’t worry about it. On the other hand, he’s a quality player and England are probably looking at their team thinking ‘we need a Ben Stokes’,” Hussey said.

Is it really a moral decision if Stokes stood up for someone?

Even though the reason for Stokes’ involvement in the brawl still remains uncertain, with one of them suggesting that he stood up in defence of a homosexual couple that was being harassed. If it is true, then Hussey’s talk about moral and ethical implications too will juxtapose this opinion for many.

“If I was in there that’s what I’d be wrestling with; it’s a moral decision or do you go with what’s the best team on the park. I think if it was up to me, I’d probably take the moral decision and say ‘stay at home, get yourself sorted out’ and give someone else an opportunity,” the former Aussie cricketer added.

That being said, Hussey insisted that England have it in them to win without him. It is true that England have multiple match-winners but they also face an added pressure of facing Australia with Moeen Ali, who wasn’t completely fit a few days ago.

“They can win without him. A lot is going to have to go right, I think, looking at some of those inexperienced players in the (England) top order,” he concluded.