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Steve Smith praises Ben Stokes’ ability, criticises off-field behaviour

Steve Smith, Australian cricket team captain, has criticised Ben Stokes for his off-field behaviour that could see the England cricket team all-rounder miss the Ashes.

cricket Updated: Oct 15, 2017 16:12 IST
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Steve Smith,Ben Stokes,The Ashes
Ben Stokes is currently on an indefinite suspension handed by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), after he was arrested for a night causing bodily harm to a man outside a Bristol nightclub. (Action Images via Reuters)

Ben Stokes is “one of the best players” in the world according to Steve Smith, but the Australian cricket team captain hopes none of his players behave like the England cricket team all-rounder off the pitch.

Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol last month, although he was released under investigation without charge.

(Read | England all-rounder Ben Stokes puts Ashes worries aside to wed)

The 26-year-old duly missed England’s last two one-day internationals and sole Twenty20 against West Indies.

However, he was named in the touring party for the upcoming Ashes series that starts at The Gabba on November 23.

But it remains to be seen whether he will travel Down Under after being suspended by the ECB until the conclusion of the police investigation.

(Read | Ben Stokes pictured smoking cigarette with bandaged hand at Jason Roy’s wedding!)

Losing Stokes would be a massive blow for England and a psychological boost for Australia, but Smith still hopes the controversial figure lines up in Brisbane.

“Whether he comes or not, that’s out of our control,” Smith told ABC Radio.

“You always want to come up against the best and test your skills against the best. That’s what Test cricket is all about.

“There’s no doubt Ben Stokes is one of the best players around the world at the moment.”

(Read | Sunil Gavaskar questions Ashish Nehra’s selection in Indian cricket team)

Smith added: “I certainly don’t condone that kind of behaviour. Hopefully it never happens to one of our boys.”

Whether Stokes plays or not, Smith remains confident Australia’s brittle bowling attack will come good to wrestle back the urn across the five-Test series.

“Two guys [Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins] who bowl 150-plus kilometres an hour and Josh Hazlewood bowling 140 and doing what he does,” Smith said.

“That is a big advantage for us. They’re three big players for us and if they turn it on throughout this series, I think we’ll have a lot of success and take a lot of wickets.”

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 16:12 IST