LONDON (Reuters) - England captain Joe Root believes the absence of vice-captain and all-rounder Ben Stokes from the start of the Ashes tour to Australia offers an opportunity for others to shine.
Stokes was arrested last month after an incident on a night out in Bristol following a one-day international, and released without charge, but remains under police investigation.
Key to England’s hopes of avoiding a repeat of a humiliating 5-0 whitewash on their last trip to Australia four years ago, he will not travel with the rest of the squad when they fly out on Saturday but could join up later.
“We’ve just got to sit tight and wait,” Root told reporters about when or whether that will happen.
“It’s obviously disappointing that Ben’s not going to be with us, but it’s a very strong squad. It gives other guys opportunities to stand up, put their stamp on test cricket and do something special.
“He’s a fine player but I see a squad more than capable of going over there and doing something really special.
“If you don’t believe that you can come back winning there’s no point getting on the plane.”
England play a first warm-up match in Perth on Nov. 4 with the first test starting on Nov. 23 in Brisbane.
As well as regaining the Ashes at home in 2015, they won both series against South Africa and West Indies during their home season this year but failed to find a reliable number three or number five batsman.
Tom Westley was tried, then left out of the tour squad, while Gary Ballance and James Vince have been recalled.
Paceman Steve Finn was added following the police investigation into Stokes and there are three uncapped players in the party: fast bowler Craig Overton, leg-spinner Mason Crane and deputy wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
“I look everyone in the eye and they’re all very keen to get out there and determined to win and come home successful,” Root added.
Reporting by Steve Tongue Editing by Jeremy Gaunt