Steven Finn has been added to the England Ashes squad as cover for Ben Stokes. © Getty Images

Steven Finn has been added to the England Ashes squad as cover for Ben Stokes. © Getty Images

Steven Finn has been added to the England Ashes squad as cover for Ben Stokes, who as it stands will not travel with the rest of the side that leaves for Australia on October 28, the English and Wales Cricket Board announced on Friday (October 6).

Stokes, 26, has been under the cosh ever since he was arrested for allegedly punching a man after a brawl at a nightclub last month, and was further suspended by the ECB, along with Alex Hales, from internationals until further notice. He was, however, released later without any charges but has remained under investigation since.

Finn will be a part of the English setup for the full five-match Ashes series, in the light of the ongoing investigation, although no final decision has been taken on Stokes’s withdrawal from the tour.

“With the Ashes just around the corner, it’s important to give the players, the coaching staff and supporters some clarity around a complex situation,” Andrew Strauss, the director of England Cricket, said in a statement.

“This decision will help us in the weeks ahead and give every player and the whole England set-up the best chance to focus on the challenge ahead in Australia.

“Steven is a high-quality cricketer, with considerable experience of both international cricket and Australian conditions. The selectors believe he will add to the range of options and the squad will be further supported by the arrival of the Lions in Australia in November.”

“We have spoken to Ben and assured him that our decision in no way prejudges the outcome of the ongoing police investigation or cricket discipline commission process, as can be seen by the award of central contracts,” Strauss added.

Stokes, who was named as the vice-captain for the Ashes, is also subjected to an internal disciplinary action but has had his contract renewed, however, by the ECB for both Test and limited-overs cricket. Hales has been retained as a limited-overs specialist.

Stokes, who was named as the vice-captain for the Ashes, has had his contract renewed, however, for both Test and limited-overs cricket, while Hales has been retained as a limited-overs specialist.

Jake Ball, the right-arm medium pacer, received a white-ball contract for the first time, having previously received an incremental deal, while Toby-Roland Jones was awarded his first incremental contract.

In a separate matter, the ECB has also fined and issued a formal written warning to Jonny Bairstow, Ball and Liam Plunkett following a disciplinary investigation into behaviour during the recent One-Day International series against the Windies.

In a separate matter, the ECB has also fined and issued a formal written warning to Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett following a disciplinary investigation into behaviour during the recent One-Day International series against the West Indies.

No further details have been given but the ECB has stated clearly that this issue is “unrelated to the investigations into Ben Stokes and Alex Hales”.

The absence of Stokes from the tour of Australia would be a huge blow for England, the current Ashes-holders, who have lost two out of their past three tours Down Under 5-0.
England have enjoyed a good summer at home, with Test series wins against South Africa and the West Indies, but there are doubts about a number of positions at the top of the batting order.

The first Ashes Test will get underway on November 23 at the Gabba, in Brisbane, while the remaining matches will be staged at Adelaide (December 2), Perth (December 14), Melbourne (December 26), and Sydney (January 4).