Ben Stokes will be a target for the Australian media, says Toby Roland-Jones
Ben Stokes can still be a part of England’s touring party to Australia for the upcoming Ashes 2017-18, but has also issued a warning that the vice-captain will be a media target, feels England bowler Toby Roland-Jones.
Following the nightclub brawl in Bristol which shook England cricket last Sunday, Ben Stokes and Alex Hales were handed indefinite suspensions by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Stokes was retained by England in their Ashes squad, but pending a police enquiry and ECB clearance, his participation in the series in Australia remains under doubt.
Roland-Jones told BBC Five Live, “We’ve had various small chats about their (Australian) media and my little understanding is that they’ll certainly try and make a target of him and the most they can out of the situation.
“Knowing him a little bit, as I do, I would have no problems about him going over there and still being able to perform and having a massive impact for that England team,” he said.
England suspended Stokes and Hales after a video surfaced in which the former can be seen punching a man outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol.
“I think it (incident) is a timely reminder. These days with phones, social media and the access that people have, at any time when you are in the public domain, you are there to be seen and recognised, particularly someone as high-profile as Ben is in our sport.”
According to ESPNCricinfo, the England team management has been reluctant to impose a ‘curfew on players’, fearing that it goes against their freedom of expression.
But Roland-Jones also warned against the pitfalls of self-governance. “It breeds a culture in sport of self-governing within the dressing-room, on and off the field, and I think that has really aided this England team, certainly from the little I’ve experienced of it.”
“I think the key thing is firstly timing, and knowing that if you drink too much that can impact your performance and preparation, and that is in no way accepted by the management. But when you are celebrating a series win, or enjoying casual beers in the dressing room, that breeds I think a really positive culture as well.
“But there’s a line there and unfortunately in certain instances it becomes pretty black and white when it is crossed,” he added.
Roland-Jones suggested that players must be held accountable for their actions. “It’s a difficult one when situations arise like this, because naturally people start to query decisions, but as sportsmen we are adults and at some stage everyone has to be held responsible for their own actions,” he said.
“You want to be able to celebrate at the right times but also it’s about finding a way of keeping an element of control when you are in the public eye, and knowing that every action can have a repercussion,” he added.