Stokes will not be on the plane with them, with the police case still open and internal disciplinary procedures on hold for now. England’s vice-captain is currently “not considered for selection” and the subject is likely to loom over the tour – his counterpart, Warner, has aired his views on that, too – but Root wanted to focus on the players at his disposal.
“I think we’ve got to plan as if he’s not going to be there for the whole series,” Root said. “It’s an ongoing investigation, we’re very much in the dark in what’s happening, as is everyone. So as a side we have to make sure we plan accordingly and approach this as our squad.
“Ben offers a lot to the team but, as I said, it’s an opportunity for other guys to stand up. In difficult situations, a lot of the time, people do surprise themselves and surprise you and are capable of more than what they might even think themselves. This is one of those occasions when you might just see that and there’s also some guys that have been given another opportunity, who will be desperate to take that. As a side I look at where we are and how we’ve grown as a team and think that this is a great opportunity for us to keep developing and move forward again.”
“At no point did we say they would be,” he said. “That would be a negative way to go about touring what is a great country. Being able to enjoy touring Australia, it is really important go and enjoy the downtime we do get and enjoy the whole nature of touring – the atmosphere of the grounds, the people around the grounds and when you go out for food, the banter that might be flying around and embrace it, because you don’t get many opportunities to go and play in an Ashes series in Australia. It’s something you want to look back on and say you approached it in the right way and gave yourself the best chance to be successful and hopefully come away with some fantastic memories.”