Cricket's poorer without Stokes, says Warne
Shane Warne hopes to see Ben Stokes back in action soon and knows Australia may well miss the injured James Pattinson ahead of what the spin great expects to be a "very, very close" Ashes series.
Stokes, England's Test vice-captain, may not travel Down Under with the squad as the 26-year-old waits to learn if he will face charges following his involvement in an altercation and subsequent arrest during a night out in Bristol late last month.
The performance of the all-rounder was one of the few positives for England as they were whitewashed 5-0 on their previous visit to Australia in 2013-14.
And Warne feels it is not just the tourists who will be missing out if Stokes does not travel.
"I don't know what the latest is but cricket's the poorer without Ben Stokes, let's hope we see him back in the arena soon," he told Omnisport.
Warne, who is playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Pro-Am golf competition in Scotland, was also disappointed to learn that Australian fast bowler Pattinson has been ruled out of the entire series due to stress fractures of the back.
"He probably wouldn't have made the starting line-up, but you need someone in a five-Test-match Ashes series... there's going to be an injury or two to one of the fast bowlers," he said.
"That's a big loss, because he's a quality act. Disappointing to lose him."
With uncertainty remaining over the make-up of both teams, Warne, who called time on his Test career after helping Australia to beat England 5-0 in 2006-07, is reluctant to pick a favourite.
"Too early, we've got to work out who's playing, [and] what the injuries are before [making] any prediction," he said.
"I think Australia will do pretty well at home but I think it will be very, very close."