England coach Trevor Bayliss has written off any likelihood that Ben Stokes will play a part in this winter’s Ashes.
Stokes is still languishing at home, awaiting a decision from Avon & Somerset Police about whether to charge him after arresting him last month on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and then releasing him under investigation.
As England embarked on their first day of net practice in Perth before this weekend’s two-day opener against a Western Australia XI at the WACA, Bayliss provided barely a sliver of remaining hope that the all-rounder may yet be joining them during a series which ends in Sydney on January 8.
Describing the circumstances which have stopped Stokes travelling, the coach referred to a “big wake-up call” about England’s off-field behaviour, yet made it clear too he and his management colleagues are not in favour of prescribing curfews and strict directives.
They will instead trust common sense to prevail among Joe Root’s squad.
Asked if he had written off Stokes’ 2017-18 Ashes campaign, Bayliss said: “I have.
“If he turns up it’s an absolute bonus – and if he did happen to turn up, I’m quite sure he would slip back in very easily.”
The Australian is not about to waste any time either pondering how long Stokes’s protracted absence may end up lasting, with a Cricket Discipline Commission investigation expected to follow the outcome of police inquiries into what happened outside a Bristol nightclub in the early hours of September 25.
“I haven’t got a clue,” he said. “It’s totally out of our hands. Whatever rules and regs you have, there’s a bit of a wake-up call. We would have preferred it not to be such a big wake-up call.”
There has been disruption already, of course, to England’s best-laid plans, but Bayliss believes there will not be a lingering uncertainty which further unsettles the tourists.
The players are focused on the series. They are professional players and it’s about the cricket from now on. We can’t worry about something we can’t control.England head coach, Trevor Bayliss
“It’s something you’d much rather not go through, that’s for sure,” he said. “It mucked our plans around a little bit.
“That’s a month ago now, but since we’ve been here – it’s only been two or three days – there’s been no chatter about it.
“The players are focused on the series. They are professional players and it’s about the cricket from now on. We can’t worry about something we can’t control.
“If we worry too much about whether he is or he isn’t (coming), that takes the focus off what we are doing. If we see that creeping in with the players, we will stop it as soon as we can.”
Bayliss’s instinct is to continue to trust his charges to do the right thing.
“It doesn’t matter if you have rules and regulations and curfews,” he added. “In the end it is the players’ own choice whether they break a rule or work things out for themselves.
“The players have sat down, had a bit of a chat and come up with a few small rules and regulations, and a belief or agreement among themselves that they will be doing the right thing and looking after themselves.
“There will be times when they are able to go out and have a few beers. It’s a long tour – you can’t be cooped up in a hotel room for four months. “It’s a case of being sensible and professional.”
Former Yorkshire bowler Chris Silverwood said he needed no second invitation after being offered the role of being England’s new bowling coach.
Silverwood, 42, played in six Tests and seven one-day internationaIs and in September led Essex to their first County Championship for 25 years.
He will replace Ottis Gibson and take up his new role in the new year, although he is not expected to have any involvement during the Ashes.
“When your country comes calling it’s a great honour,” said Silverwood. “The chance to be in that England dressing room is so exciting.”