England skipper ready for sledging over Ben Stokes
Perth — England captain Joe Root said his team were prepared to be sledged by Australia during the Ashes series, especially over Ben Stokes’s absence in the touring squad.
Stokes was arrested in September after an incident on a night out in Bristol, following a one-day international. He was released without charge, but remains under investigation.
England arrived in Perth on Sunday without the suspended all-rounder, who could join his teammates later.
Root suggested the hosts would not let his men forget about the reasons behind their vice-captain’s absence.
"Potentially, they might [sledge us about Stokes]," Root said. "But Ashes cricket — there’s always an edge of psychological banter. Once you’ve played in a few, you know what to expect and you know how it goes leading up to the games. I’m sure there will be plenty of banter flying around on and off the field.
"That’s something you’ve got to cherish and relish and be able to look back on at the end of your career and say: ‘I gave it my best shot, and I enjoyed it’."
Stokes is key to England’s hopes of avoiding a repeat of a humiliating 5-0 whitewash on their last trip to Australia four years ago.
"We’ve got to plan as if he’s not going to be here and give ourselves the best chance."
Former Australia Test captains Steve Waugh and Ian Chappell say England cannot retain the Ashes without the influential Stokes.
England begin their preparations for the series with a two-day match against Western Australia XI at the Waca Ground starting on Saturday. They will take on a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide and Townsville before the first Test starts in Brisbane on November 23.