YORKSHIRE’S Joe Root may have to “con” England into believing they can win the Ashes without talisman Ben Stokes, according to Michael Vaughan.
Former England captain Vaughan insists Australia will be overwhelming favourites to win the Ashes should the tourists be shorn of all-rounder Stokes for the opening Test.
Stokes could miss the first clash that starts on November 23 owing to the fall-out from his Bristol arrest in September for actual bodily harm that left him with a broken finger.
And Vaughan believes fellow Sheffielder and current captain Root must find a way to galvanise his side against the Aussies if Stokes misses out.
“His greatest challenge is going to be to convince the team they can win,” said Vaughan.
“It may be that he has to lie a bit and con them. He might have to blow up a few tyres that might be flat and convince them they are good enough to beat this Australian team.
You know they will have a bit of magic in them and can Joe convince his players to play a style of cricket over a period to win.Michael Vaughan
“I don’t think it is right to go there and talk down the Aussies. I’ve been around captains that do that and it doesn’t work.
“It is worth saying they are good. They are not what they were 20 years ago, but they are dangerous and you know what they will produce over five matches.
“You know they will have a bit of magic in them and can Joe convince his players to play a style of cricket over a period to win.
“The problem with this Test team over the last two years is they have had moments where we have all thought they were brilliant and then the week after, like at Headingley (in defeat to West Indies), you have thought ‘what the hell was that?’
“He has to make sure they are consistently playing at a level to take the game into days four and five. I don’t see them blowing Australia away in three days.”
Vaughan hailed Stokes as England’s second-best batsman, behind Root, and admitted fearing the tourists would lose confidence in his absence.
“I am sure Australia respect a lot of our players but the one they fear the most is not going to be there,” said Vaughan.
“I’ve not seen too many celebrations from the Australians but I am sure in private they have cracked open a few bottles of Penfold.
“If David Warner was injured next week and out of the Ashes I am sure you would find the England players celebrating.
“It is not disrespecting Alastair Cook but I would say Stokes is England’s second best player with the bat.
“With the ball he is erratic at times but he has an impact. In the field you know he will produce something.
“More importantly it is his mindset. I watch England walk out on the field and when Stokes is in the team they walk out two inches taller.
“If he is not there in Brisbane you would have to say Australians are clear favourites to win the series.”
County champions Essex have announced the signing of all-rounder Matt Coles from Kent.
The 27-year-old, who returned to Canterbury in March 2015 following a disappointing spell at Hampshire, has joined Chris Silverwood’s side on a two-year deal.
Former Yorkshire player Silverwood said: “It is important that we continue to improve the squad and not rest on our laurels.
“We feel Matt offers excellent attributes with both his batting and bowling across all formats.
“He will strengthen competition in red-ball cricket but also offer destructive batting and bowling in white-ball cricket so it is an excellent signing for the club.”
Coles added: “It is with a heavy heart that I leave Kent, but it feels right, and I want to push myself to be as good as I can be. Essex’s vision for the future is really exciting and I’m looking forward to playing a significant part.”
Glamorgan have announced that Michael Hogan will lead the team in first-class cricket in 2018.
The 36-year-old Australian fast bowler replaces the retired Jacques Rudolph, a former Yorkshire player.