IMAGE: Vice-captain Ben Stokes is a guaranteed match-winner for England. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Ben Stokes’s importance in the England team could not be more emphasised, especially after his superb show in the recently-concluded ICC World Cup.
Stokes missed the 2017-18 Ashes defeat Down Under after his involvement in a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017 but will be a key figure for England with bat and ball and as vice-captain to Joe Root.
While he has worked hard to clean up his act and Australia have been on a charm offensive after their disciplinary woes, Stokes knows that once hostilities begin on Thursday the mood could change.
“It is weird Aussies trying to be nice to you,” he said.
“Once you get out in the middle and cross the white line, the real competitive side of both teams will come out and the Ashes is the biggest Test series played in the world.
“There is always something that happens between teams in Ashes series and I don’t think this will be any different. Both teams are desperate to win.”