Stokes' strong character ingrained in England squad, says Broad

Updated: 

Ben Stokes' strong character has become so ingrained in the England squad that his potential absence from the Ashes campaign in Australia may not be too sorely felt, says Stuart Broad.

A final decision on Stokes' involvement in Australia has yet to be taken, after he was arrested in Bristol last month on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.

The all-rounder was released without charge, but will not be considered for selection while a police investigation continues, meaning he is set to remain at home on Saturday when England fly out to begin their tour.

Speaking to Omnisport, Broad suggested the positive impact Stokes has had on England's dressing-room dynamic will help the team even if the 26-year-old misses out.

"I don't think anyone knows what Stokes' situation will be. Obviously we are hoping to have him in Australia, but in my opinion he has been a leader in the changing room in the last 18 months, so his characteristics are instilled in the team anyway whether he is on the pitch or not," Broad, an ambassador for The Belfry Hotel & Resort, said at its PGA Golf Academy, where he was being custom-fitted for a new driver ahead of his trip to the Ashes.

"His competitive side, the way he puts his arm around players, the way he encourages players, that will still be there if Ben Stokes the cricketer isn't. What he has given to the team will stay with the team and that will stand us in good stead in Australia.

"I don't think Ashes series are won and lost on one player and you always need players to stand up at different times and Alastair Cook did it in 10-11, scored a record number of runs, Jimmy Anderson did it in 10-11, got some awesome wickets, and Ashes series are won in those little key moments and we have enough players who can step up in those key times."

Broad is confident England have a squad capable of mounting a strong Ashes defence in Australia, despite questions about the strength of their middle order after multiple changes in personnel.

He said: "I think we are a free spirit of a team so it makes us relatively unpredictable. We can do wonderful things, we can have players score hundreds off 90 balls, but then we can also lose three wickets quickly and that hurts us.

"Rooty [Joe Root] as captain is trying to bring a little bit more responsibility into that - can we stand up and calm our bad moments down, so let's not lose a Test match in a session, let's stay in the game longer.

"I think we are really nicely equipped to go to Australia. We have got good experience but we have also got some young players who are completely fearless and we are going to need that."