Ben Stokes, Moral Dilemmas, and Fence-Sitting

Much as bloggers like the sound of their own voice – and I definitely fall into this category myself – I don’t like making too many moral judgements. I wasn’t at that Bristol nightclub when Ben Stokes went a little crazy (I was safely tucked up in bed with a brandy and an episode of South Park), and I have no idea whether his actions were criminal or whether the bloke with a broken eye socket had it coming. All I know is that it’s not right to abuse a gay couple, and it’s not right for an England cricketer to put his career (and the Ashes!) in jeopardy by getting involved in a fist fight either.

What I can do, however, is ask all of you what you think. And I can point out what seems to be quite an obvious discrepancy in standards: why are Canterbury happy for Ben Stokes to play for them but England aren’t? Obviously the ECB have their protocols, and disciplinary procedures and investigations have their place, but this doesn’t change the fact that Stokes will be playing for Canterbury in the Burger King Super Smash next week when he could be playing in the Ashes.

I can hear the arguments now … surely if Stokes is allowed to travel to New Zealand, and pursue his career with one of their domestic sides, then he should be available for England too? Many people won’t see the difference. Have the Kiwis decided that he’s innocent until proven guilty, whereas England have decided something else? Or are us Poms simply insisting on higher moral standards than our cousins in New Zealand … and thus cutting off our nose to spite our face? It’s a curious dilemma.

Many will doubtless argue that if a professional sportsman is cleared to play then he’s cleared to play. He shouldn’t be allowed to play domestic cricket but not international games. Either he plays cricket or he doesn’t. End of.

Let’s not forget that Stokes hasn’t been banned for something he did in an international match; he’s not playing because of something that happened away from cricket. He didn’t punch an umpire of opponent; therefore shouldn’t he allowed to ply his trade up to the point that he’s actually convicted of a crime?

My point here is that England’s decision not to pick Stokes is non-cricket related and purely a moral judgement. And as moral judgements are subjective, England’s position (and Canterbury’s juxtaposition) are highly arguable and somewhat controversial. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with Andrew Strauss’s approach. I’m just stating the facts.

An equally compelling view is that Stokes shouldn’t be playing for anyone at all at the moment. Perhaps Canterbury are bringing the game into disrepute by employing a player who’s being investigated for a criminal offence? Maybe the ECB should be applauded for taking a moral stance whereas Canterbury are being somewhat opportunistic by signing England’s controversial star at a time when his country doesn’t want him?

On the other hand, I can also empathise somewhat with those who think the ECB should have stood by Stokes, picked him for the Ashes, and then defended his behaviour as a heroic attempt to stand up for the aforementioned gay couple. Portraying Stokes as a ‘have-a-go hero’ might have gone down ok in Australia.

Instead the ECB have reacted in a way that makes the Stokes incident appear more serious. They’ve treated Stokes like a naughty boy, got all defensive about the behaviour of other players (no matter how innocuous), and reminded the team that they need to be on their best behaviour. This has made life trickier for our touring party by perpetuating the perception down under that England’s squad is full of hooligans. The reality is actually very different … as eloquently expressed by George Dobell yesterday.

Maybe it would have been more prudent for the ECB to deny there’s any drinking culture, stick up for the players, and go on the offensive when dealing with the Aussie media? They certainly could have stuck up for Jonny Bairstow who clearly did nothing wrong when he “head butted” Bancroft. Instead Andrew Strauss fell for a good old fashioned Aussie windup and heaped more pressure on the England players in the process.

It is interesting to contrast Strauss’s stance regarding Stokes with the way Sir Alex Ferguson looked after Eric Cantona when he infamously kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan. I have no doubt that  Fergie would’ve had words behind the scenes, but he put his arm around his star player and portrayed him as something of a victim in public. This is because Ferguson knew just how important Cantona was to his team and how integral the enigmatic Frenchman was to Utd’s success. Strauss seems more concerned with sending out the right signals than winning the Ashes. Ferguson didn’t seem to give a crap about the morality.

Obviously we can argue until the seagulls come home whether Ferguson or Strauss’s approach is right. Some will think that some things are more important than winning. The CEO of the San Francisco 49ers recently sacked their most successful coach for twenty years because winning wasn’t enough. Instead he demanded “winning with class” – a catchphrase that looks pretty daft considering the team has only won 7 of its last 43 games since. How will Strauss feel if the cost of his moral stance is another 0-5 whitewash?

What I’m getting at, I guess, is that this situation is a moral minefield. And who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? All I know is it’s bloody annoying that England are 0-1 down the Ashes, about to play a crucial test in Adelaide, and yet our best player is playing nearby in a competition England supporters couldn’t give a rat’s arse about. The whole situation is so frustrating.

No doubt many people will argue that Stokes only has himself to blame. And in many respects they’re right. But on the other hand isn’t it good that some people are prepared to stick up for victims of abuse? Stokes may have gone too far – and yes he may have let his country down by getting into the scrap – but at the end of the day what’s more important to ordinary people: the Ashes or homophobia?

And that’s why, at least until the full facts are known, I’m not touching these kinds of moral judgements with a sixty foot pole.

James Morgan



  • “…what’s more important to ordinary people: the Ashes or homophobia?”

    Call me an old-fashioned bigot, but I personally sway marginally in favour of the cricket on that point.

  • Thanks for all the options James! I’ll go for “I think the ECB should have stood by Stokes, picked him for the Ashes, and then defended his behaviour as a heroic attempt to stand up for the aforementioned gay couple. Portraying Stokes as a ‘have-a-go hero’ might have gone down ok in Australia.”

  • Ironically James Canterbury recently stood down batsman Ken McClure after he plead guilty to an assault charge which happened on a night out in the middle of a pre-season training camp for his club side …

    I used to play for the same club – East Christchurch-Shirley – once home to Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan and (in their gap year) Dominic Cork & Craig White.

    • That’s very interesting mate. Is the difference that McClure pleaded guilty? Or is Stokes just a better player and therefore more likely to win games for Canterbury?!

      • In fairness McClure stood himself down – though I suspect that may have been after some “consultation” with Canterbury/Easts. I’m assuming the key factor is the pleading guilty – though Canterbury’s woeful start to defending the Plunket Shield this season may have crossed people’s minds.Time-wise his assault was on Sep 10, his court appearance on Nov 21 (after which he stood down) & he’ll sentenced in January

        • I guess also there’s the fact that McClure’s incident was while travelling with a Canterbury-affiliated club – so he was “on duty” as a contracted player to them – as Stokes was with England. It’s also worth noting that McClure played 3 of Canterbury’s first 4 Plunket Shield games this season after the incident (he missed one after being concussed in a warm up match).

          So Canterbury were happy to play McClure until he was convicted – and will likely recall him once he’s been sentenced and completed any court-ordered punishment. McClure’s averaging 37 after 20 FC matches but is seen as a decent future prospect

  • Stokes has not been convicted of any crime, so he is free to pursue his trade wherever he wants (provided the Old Bill don’t take his passport). Equally, England are free not to pick him (that’s what you have selectors for). On cricketing grounds, there are no reasons not to pick him, so England must have decided that being up on a charge of ABH (or GBH) is sufficient reason. Understandable, but it has no bearing on Canterbury’s decision.

    • The ECB and Canterbury are obviously free to make their own decisions, and they shouldn’t necessarily care what other bodies have decided. However this won’t stop other people from comparing the two. The bottom line is that England have decided to take what they consider to be a moral stance, whereas presumably Canterbury have taken what they also consider to be a moral stance: letting Stokes play because you’re innocent until proven guilty. Which principle is more important here … I’ll leave that to the philosophers!

      • Is applying a code of conduct a “moral stance”?

        The ECB needn’t wait for a conviction to make their own decision about the appropriateness of Stokes’ conduct.

        • No they don’t have to wait for a conviction. But it’s their call. Others do wait before acting. It’s a judgement call.

  • I think there is something really comendable about Stokes stepping in to defend who people who he (and they) felt couldn’t defend themselves. I can’t say that I would have done the same especially with what Stokes has to lose and I find it hard to have any sympathy for anyone involved in that even if by the time they were knocked to the ground they had decided like a lot of bullies they didn’t fancy it anymore.

    On the other hand anyone who has watched the C4 program One Punch Killers will know that Stokes is lucky not to have killed one of them and he should never have been in that situation and going out till the early hours in the middle of a match/series was not a one off according to Rent-a-quote Vaughan so he is far from blameless.

    I honestly don’t know what punishment I feel is appropriate, I don’t think the UK Criminal justice system has shown its self in a great light. Its basically December and we don’t have a charging decision about a drunken fight in September, its poor and ecally a limit was set on how long a person can be let out on bail without charge, this under investigation nonsense has made that change moot

  • On the one hand he only gave his final statement the other day and you can’t really expect the police to work around England’s cricket schedule. This is I think a valid reason for England not taking him, or his broken hand.

    England’s PR though has been awful and completely self defeating. Yes they should have pronounced him innocent until proven guilty and backed him assuming he told them the details.

    They were more interested in looking like goody two shoes ( hardly an unknown Strauss quality) than winning test matches. If they’d merely said that not selecting him was due to his injury rather than disciplinary reasons then no harm done.

    Instead the squad know that Strauss won’t back them if they get into some mire, which plenty of our touring sides have through no fault of their own. They’ve been treated like naughty children ( hardly an unknown Strauss quality) and allowed the convicts to have a damned good laugh at their expense.

    How dim is Strauss?

  • It’s not a moral minefield at all.

    The ECB will have their own code of conduct and they will have seen the video of Stokes beating the crap out of a guy in the street.

    They can make a decision based on that, entirely independently of whether charges are laid. The attempt to use Canterbury as some kind of alternative benchmark is nonsensical.

    As an Australian, I don’t mind one way or the other if Stokes plays. I’d rather beat an England side that has their better players, just so we don’t get any of the predictable excuses about how it all would have been different had Stokes been there.

    But that video is pretty bloody damning. And as much as the English like to go on about “thuggish Australians”, I don’t think an Australian player would have escaped a lengthy suspension had they been filmed doing that.

    You can bend over backwards if you want to explain why Stokes should be playing. But ultimately the ECB has its code of conduct which surely shouldn’t be suspended just because the Ashes are currently being played. And we’ve all seen Stokes beating the crap out of someone. That’s the bottom line, really. Canterbury have nothing to do with it. Does the ECB enforce its code of conduct or doesn’t it? Can an England player do what Stokes did and miss only two Tests?

    • I’m with you here. Apart from anything else, it’s my understanding that it would not be legally enforceable for the ECB to prevent Stokes from playing cricket elsewhere. Additionally if selected for the Ashes tour what a huge distraction would it be for the team, never knowing whether, or at which point, Stokes might be summoned back to England to face charges. In that event, the ensuing media circus would be horrendous. Stokes and the team would be hounded. He has a brilliant career ahead of him, but he has a history of being a fool to himself. He needs help and support and I have no doubt that he is being offered that, in the right way and in private.

    • I think you’re missing the point, Tom. The morality of all this is completely subjective … which is why bringing up Canterbury as a comparison is highly relevant and interesting. Why have Canterbury got a code of conduct with different moral standards? It’s a good talking point.

      PS I severely doubt the ECB does actually have a codified code of conduct. They probably just react to things as they go along with each case considered independently of others.

      • Stokes playing in the Ashes would be a media spectacle. He is on his second warning for onfield abuse. I can see the Aussies making mincemeat of him in the sledging takes. I can’t imagine his participation helping anyone, let alone Ben Stokes. It could well boost our cricketing prospects, but that is all. I would like to see him learn and come back from this a stronger and more balanced person. Looking at his long term furture he needed and needs time away until this is over and he has successfully dealt with his problems. The morality issues are different and secondary to Stokes’ future career and welfare.

        • Good points Jenny but I wonder whether Stokes himself would agree? I bet he’d love to be with his England team mates right now, no matter what abuse the Aussies throw his way.

      • I’m not missing any point. If anything, you’re imagining a point where none exists.

        Of course the ECB has a code of conduct for its players. And Canterbury may well have a different one. Would that be particularly surprising? Nor is it particularly relevant, as Stokes is centrally contracted by the ECB. They’re the ones who have to make the call. Canterbury doesn’t have anywhere near as much skin in the game by picking him as a freelancer for a few games.

        It’s also not about “morality”. It’s about governance. You don’t have to make a moral judgement about what Stokes did to decide whether England’s code of conduct should apply or not. You guys are just tieing yourselves in knots because you want Stokes to play.

      • That’s like saying why does one person happily scam or charge high prices for something that costs them 50p to produce while another will charge a cheap price for the same product.

        Moral compass.. each person is different, each region is different, each state is different, each country is different etc

        The ecb as one of the top level elite sporting bodies should hold itself to the highest moral compass.. Canterbury being a fairly small and insignificant cricket team.. can lower its standards … just like a Saturday amateur team will happily playa convicted thug who smokes, drinks, sledges and takes,drugs.. why.. because they have even less of a moral compass.

        Simple truth is, Aome England fans care more about Cricket than doing what’s right. At the end of the day, Cricket should come a distant 2nd behind doing what is right.. what is right is not rewarding such behaviour when it’s come to light that he’s no angel off the field.. he’s a professional who isn’t acting professially and so the ecb need to stop turning the other cheek to these highly paid players. If he never played for England again, it wouldn’t matter to the game one bit. No player is bigger than the game but the way you’re all acting is like he is.

        Say again.. inconsistent batter, avg 35 and isn’t that good a bowler (he’s not a front line bowler, more your 4th seamer)

    • If Stokes stepped in to stop homophobic abuse it’s commendable, going on to knock lumps out of someone because he’d had a skinful is surely not acceptable.

      As far as the Strauss decision goes, if Stokes had been let off for laying into some random punter, then he’s pretty much saying anything goes in terms of behaviour.

      As far as the team goes wasn’t it better to prepare for the Ashes without him and have the boost of him being cleared mid-tour than have the distraction and ignominy of him having to pack his bags and leave half way through the Adelaide test?

  • England should play Stokes, they will most certainly lose the ashes without him. The aussies are playing dirty, so I don’t see why England shouldn’t do the same thing. Of course England and stokes will come for a lot of stick from the aussie fans, the players and the media if he plays, but he’s tough enough to shrug that off.

    • How are Australia playing dirty? By laughing at Bairstow being a weirdo? Oh wow, so dirty! Besides, the English press did most of the work by running so hard with that story.

      My god you Poms are precious, aren’t you?

    • For many, many years England have delighted in calling Aussies a bunch of convicts (or descendants of convicts) in many sports, not just cricket. Won’t Australian crowds have fun in giving some back thanks to Ben Stokes.

  • Frankly I’m fed up with hearing about Stokes. I don’t like him, he’s got previous (as I believe they say).
    England needs to get it act together and concentrate on trying to beat Australia with the players they
    have at their disposal and to stop walking on eggshells with the Os press brigaDE.
    In any case there are far more serious concerns about events at Worcs CCC.

  • So far as I’m aware, suggesting that the people who Stokes punched subjected someone homophobic abuse is unsubstantiated, and possibly libellous.

    Irrespective of that, Stokes’ actions were, judging by the camera, disproportionate. He could, as Nick pointed out, have killed someone.

    I wish Stokes was part of the England team. I hope he plays for England again in the future. But I don’t think an England player who is videoed violently attacking two men in the street, whatever the situation, should be playing until (a) the situation is resolved, (b) he’s apologised and (c) some period of suspension has been served.

    Otherwise how is Strauss going to discipline anyone else? To take him on tour basically says “Whatever you do outside of cricket, so long as you aren’t in jail, is utterly irrelevant with respect to selection. Do what you want.”

    I don’t think there’s any parallel between Canterbury and England. When you pull on an England shirt you are representing England. I think there’s clearly a higher standard of behaviour expected of players representing their country.

    • Ah. I was wondering when someone would bring this up.

      “I think there’s clearly a higher standard of behaviour expected of players representing their country”.

      My answer to this is “why”? I’m not saying you’re wrong. I just think it’s highly debatable and many would disagree.

      Re: the accusation that the couple Stokes saved were being subjected to homophobic abuse was well reported at the time. In fact, the gay couple involved gave an interview in the Sun in which they described exactly what happened

      • I think this homophobic stuff is irrelevant to be honest, the fight was long over by the time Stokes finally connected, and the guy that ended up with a fractured eye socket wasn’t the one swinging the bottle – he was backing off with his hands up for a good 20-30 seconds. Because Stokes red mist had descended though, he wasn’t going to settle for anything than seeing them unconscious – out of control

        But yeah, the “provide example” is pretty grey area isn’t it? You don’t have to expect standards from players, and indeed can turn a blind eye to this. But then you’re going to end up with a hell of a lot more early retirements. Besides, if people don’t expect standards from players, then they can’t complain when the likes of Andrew Flintoff as captain turns up to training incapable of doing it because he’s still drunk. Ricky Ponting should be the first person Stokes talks to about turning things around after being suspended for fighting outside a pub

      • Stokes is centrally contracted by the ECB. They have to make the call. They can’t just shirk the issue by saying: “Well, if Canterbury let him play then why can’t we?”

        Since when does the ECB take its cues for behavioural standards from a provincial NZ team? That would diminish the organisation. What Canterbury does is completely irrelevant.

        • Tom, this is where I think you’re misunderstanding my point. Nobody is saying that England should now change their minds because Canterbury are letting Stokes play. That would be ridiculous. I’m just pointing out the fact that England looked at the evidence and said “this bloke can’t play for us” whereas Canterbury looked at the evidence and said “he’s fine … innocent until proven guilty”.

          Nobody is having a moan either. I’m just pointing out that different people have different moral standards … and the ECB have put morality ahead of winning the Ashes. I’m not saying whether this is right or wrong. I’m just saying it’s frustrating that Stokes is currently playing cricket not far from Australia … but he’s not involved in the Ashes.

          • Again, it’s not about morality. It’s about governance. And Canterbury is not relevant because Stokes is centrally contracted by the ECB. Canterbury have drafted him in to play a few games so it doesn’t matter too much to them. The ECB has far more at stake.

      • I don’t really understand why you think representing a club is in any way comparable with representing your country. It isn’t.

        • Why? When you play for your club you’re still representing a community. Many football fans, for example, care a lot more about their clubs than their country. I don’t think it’s that clear cut.

  • The ECB are responsible for all of this storm. They should have just come out immediately and said 2 match suspension – End of matter. Right now, Stokes would be getting some prep in Canterbury and the matter would be closed. It’s just the latest in a long list of episodes of ECB Public Relations incompetence – they are a bunch of amateurs when it comes to dealing with a crisis and always somehow manage to make things even worse.

  • Unfortunately Stokes has a history of being a bit of an idiot, and too free with his fists (locker room?) However I would like to know why it has taken the police several months to decide to pass the case to the CPS.

  • Reasonable cases can be made for banning or not banning Stokes – but the worst of both worlds was to sound all tough and moralistic then, after losing one match, to get all panicky and end up looking like the ECB are more bothered about the embarrassment of a potential 5-0 than concerns about justice or morality.

    But that’s the ECB we’ve come to know and, er, love.

    • Is it the ECB who are getting all panicky or the English cricketing fraternity on Twitter and in the media? I’m not sure myself. Angus sounded perfectly reasonable about the whole thing. Although not ECB, he is one of the gang.

  • I’m not going to get into the complexities’ of the Bristol incident itself. A judge and jury may still end up doing that and I imagine it would come down to a determination of whether the level of force used at various stages during the altercation was necessary and proportionate in the context of the situation.
    However I do think the ECB is sending out some very confused and mixed messages (surprise, surprise…) and hasn’t taken a consistent line on this. In granting Stokes a No Objection Certificate to play for Canterbury they’re effectively saying that it’s OK for him to play cricket for someone else while this business is ongoing, but not to play cricket for them. I get that if he was in Australia his presence could be as much a distraction as an advantage, but it really should be all or nothing – either send him to join the Ashes squad and stand by that decision unless or until he’s charged, or else keep him at home. By allowing him to play domestic cricket all they’ve done is make a garbled mess of their own disciplinary process and given the impression that they’re making it up as they go along. Surely they must’ve had some inkling that he wasn’t out of the legal woods and that the Police were about to pass the file to the CPS with the possibility of charges to follow? Yet they chose almost that precise moment to give the all clear for him to play.

    • It’s not a matter of choice for the ECB. Legally, Stokes is within his rights to play elsewhere.

      • I’m not so sure about that. Remember that he’s a centrally contracted ECB player. They went out of their way give him a No Objection Certificate, effectively suspending any semblance of a disciplinary process.

  • My view, which may or may not chime with anybody else, is that the ECB are, as usual, showing themselves to be complacent and incompetent. But I suspect my reasons for thinking that will not be what people think they are.
    The ECB are trying to look like they take what Stokes did seriously – as they should. But by setting so much store by whether or not he is charged, they are leaving themselves at the mercy of the Police and the CPS while simultaneously looking like they want more than anything for it all to be brushed under a carpet and to be allowed to pick Stokes asap.
    It’s very little to do with morality for me – although I’d have trouble supporting a player who had shown himself to be a rather immature and violent thug. I think it’s more about managing a player who ought to be one of England’s core players for the next 10 years.
    The ECB shouldn’t wait for the CPS. They should just have looked at the evidence that was available, talked to the players and come to a judgement. Then they should have told Stokes he was not going on the Winter tour, and that if he wanted to be picked again in 2018 he would have to go through some serious interventions to deal with his aggression and his attitude and to show that he was prepared to act like a mature adult both on and off the field. Then he could be free to play again.
    Everyone remembers how “tragic” it was that Andrew Flintoff had to retire much earlier than perhaps he should have done because of the way he abused his own talent by much of his off-field lifestyle. To try and stop the same thing happening to Stokes, the ECB ought to try harder to give him a wake-up call now. The events in Bristol are hardly an isolated incident in his life, though they might be the most public so far.
    Stokes needs to realise what is possible for him in the next decade, and what might get in the way of those possibilities. Although you might expect somebody who was married and with two children to act a little more responsibly anyway.

  • Pretty simple really. It isn’t appropriate to hunt someone down and punch their lights out because they called someone else a poof (or whatever). It’s completely disproportionate. In fact, I can’t think of anything the bloke could have said that would have warranted Stokes’s actions. There’s a real problem in modern society where things people say or write seem to be treated more seriously than physical violence. It’s quite extraordinary that the Old Bill, after several weeks, still claim to need guidance over whether there’s even a case to answer. The bloke suffered a serious injury and could have died, for pity’s sakes! Stokes is England’s vice-captain and the ECB should have suspended him for the entire Ashes series, irrespective of whether he’s either charged or convicted, to put the whole thing to bed.

    Oh and come on James, ref one of your comments, of course the ECB have a behavioural code of conduct – they’re an employer. Besides, they probably have a process or code for pretty much everything you can think of. It’s the kind of pointless crap the pen-pushers specialize in – anything to stop them actually doing something to improve the running of the game or the experience of spectators!

  • I don’t see the problem with the situation. Until Stokes is cleared unequivocally and hasn’t got to appear in court, there is no point selecting him for the Ashes tour, as he and the team won’t be able to settle down and concentrate properly on the job in hand. Imagine he played in the next test, scored a double hundred and took 10 wickets (artistic licence here to illustrate a point) and was then recalled to be charged, how does that help the big picture.
    If he’s recalled from New Zealand it has minimal effect and at the same time he has been able to get some much needed match practice, so if he becomes properly available, without strings, he has some cricket under his belt.
    The video footage seems pretty damming though and I expect the whole affair to be academic when he is charged.
    If his conduct has broken his contract with the ECB, his position is untenable anyway, as he would have signed it.
    Do we want to see privelidges granted to the rich and famous or the law apply equally to everyone. At the end of the day however much we care about England’s cricketing fortunes, it’s only a game we’re taking about.

    • Just playing devil’s advocate here.

      If Stokes played in a test and took 10 wickets and scored a double hundred then England would probably be 1-0 up rather than 0-1 down. Surely it’s better to have him for some of the series than none of it?

      There’s an NFL player call Zeke Elliott (plays for Dallas) who has been suspended by the league over a domestic violence controversy. Even with this controversy surrounding him, he’s still played a number of games this year. I’m not saying his team are morally right or wrong to play him, but it does indicate that one size doesn’t fit all and other approaches to legal controversies exist.

      Different teams seem to take a different approach, and it’s purely subjective how one decides to react. I’m not saying that England should have picked Stokes – I agree the video is very damning – but they COULD have done. That’s all my article is trying to say.

  • James Anderson says Australia are bullying England. Yes, “bullying”.

    Absolute gold. Do these guys know what “self-parody” means?

    Poor wittle Jimmy! Those nasty Australians!

    Did Anderson make a bet to see who could most egregiously play up to Australian stereotypes of visiting Pommie cricketers? The double standards, the wounded feelings, the selective claims of victimhood and then the exquisite garnish of “but don’t worry, we’re really tough anyway”. It’s all there.

    • Yes it’s extraordinary isn’t it, why don’t they just shut up an play? What Anderson described as “bullying” is essentially what you need to do to win top class international sport. I call it “competing”, and England need to compete in return or they’re going to get steamrollered. They need to respond like Aussie did in 2005 when England came out furiously at Lord’s, knocked them over for under 200 and Harmison cut Ponting’s cheek with a brutal lifter. Knuckle down, cut the chatter and fight. Presumably, we’re hearing all this drivel because deep down, they know they’re not good enough to do that.

      It’s a shame Stokes is such a moron, because with him in the side I reckon it would have been an exceptionally close series.

    • That article is click bait. Anderson said Australia ‘bullied’ England in the sense that we were pushed around and thrashed … and knocked sideways by their pace attack. He didn’t mean it as a whinge in the sense that the headline tries to make out. He didn’t say anything like “those Aussies are bowling too fast and I’m going to tell teacher”. Come on.

      • Why can’t people and pros just shut their gobs and play Cricket. All the bull crap about ‘hard’ ‘aggressive’ ‘compettive’ Cricket is just cover for people to vent bile at others in the name of ‘sport’. Just shut the f up and winnor lose by Cricket.

        This verbal bs is just getting worse and worse at all levels and adds nothing to the game

  • “The Ashes or homophobia”. The homophobe was the chap who got the broken eye socket. It is taking action against homophobia (if we are to believe the story) that got Stokes into trouble. So, as you say earlier, there was an opportunity to present him as a hero twice over, until found guilty and required to serve a custodial sentence. Maybe the management didn’t have the bottle to try this, or maybe there was another story, that we haven’t been told, that is not so creditable to our have-a-go hero. All very frustrating, and as odd as it is frustrating.

  • Up until this point, I was also very judgemental about this whole scenario. James you have really put forward a whole new perspective and I must say that I agree with all of your points here. I AM A SIMPLE MAN, I JUST WANT ASHES TO BE COMPETITIVE!

  • I can’t believe people are genuinely swallowing this whole gay couple nonsense that the ECB dreamt up a week after the incident. Stokes kicked off because some lads took a photo of Alex Hales with a bird that wasn’t his missus


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