Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Own-Goals Have Scuppered Tour from Start

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Own-Goals Have Scuppered Tour from Start

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Stocks in Perth

ENGLAND'S Ashes tour had the whiff of disaster about it even before the squad had been announced, following the arrest of Ben Stokes in Bristol in September.

From that moment until today, when the Ashes were surrendered, England's hopes have been beset by a series of off-field incidents, and these have been compounded by equally self-inflicted wounds on the field.

Steve Smith's Australians have been by far the better team and deserve their success but England have given them plenty of help.

The arrest of Stokes on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm following a late-night fracas outside Bristol's Mbargo nightclub came just days before England announced their squad for this series.

Indeed, so bad was the timing that the star all-rounder was originally named in the line-up before the England and Wales Cricket Board hastily made him "unavailable for selection until further notice".

The legal process regarding Stokes is continuing, and he is still waiting to find out if he will be charged. But his absence and subsequent relocation to play in New Zealand for Christchurch has created a circus around this tour that has surely distracted Joe Root and his players.

To make matters worse, the subsequent airing of more off-field incidents, starting with Jonny Bairstow's 'headbutt' greeting to Australia opener Cameron Bancroft on the first night of the tour in Perth's Avenue Bar and finishing with England Lions player Ben Duckett pouring a drink over the head of Jimmy Anderson at the same bar last week, further destabilised the squad.

The imposition of a curfew when the Bairstow incident was revealed at the end of the First Test in Brisbane did not go down well with the players.

Duckett's dousing of Anderson, on the one night the curfew was relaxed, has led senior figures within England's team management including coach Trevor Bayliss to warn that two or three problem characters in the squad could be frozen out come the end of the tour.

But it is too late to rescue this tour, and if Stokes's absence was akin to England having one hand tied behind their back, then what has happened since can only be described as the team voluntarily handcuffing the other to a chair. …

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