CRICKET: Former England captain Michael Vaughan has poured cold water on Ben Stokes' hopes of playing in Australia, believing the controversial all-rounder is little chance of taking part in next month's one-day international series despite being named.
Stokes and Alex Hales have been named in England's 16-man squad however their inclusion is provisional at this stage.
Stokes hasn't been sighted for England since September when he was involved in a brawl outside a bar in Bristol.
That fracas saw Stokes placed under investigation for causing actual bodily harm and the case is currently in front of the UK's Crown Prosecution Service.
Stokes has not been charged but has played no role in the Ashes, with the ECB suspending him until further notice as a result of the incident.
Vaughan cannot see that suspension being lifted in time for the ODI series, telling BBC 5: "There is no chance Ben Stokes will play cricket in Australia this (UK) winter.”
"It's very confusing but I don't think anything has changed really,” Vaughan said. "It's the same situation we are in now, he's not here playing for England because he is not deemed selectable.”
England fans have been left confused by the ECB's refusal to pick Stokes considering they have given him permission to play for Canterbury in New Zealand and his selection in the ODI squad is only going to further muddy the issue.
Vaughan is sympathetic to this confusion but said the ECB's hand has largely been forced throughout this saga.
"They don't want to prejudice any kind of case moving forward. They had to include him in the squad.
"But I would bet my bottom dollar that unless this case comes to an end very quickly, there is no chance Ben Stokes will play cricket in Australia this winter.”
But while Vaughan holds lilttle hope of Stokes playing, fellow former England skipper Ian Botham begs to differ.
Given Stokes is already playing in New Zealand, Botham believes the all-rounder should be flown in to play the final three Tests.
"Australia are two-up in the series, England have got it all to do and he would be the x-factor that might just shake things up,” he told Fox Sports News.
"It's very simple, if you lose in Perth it's all over red rover.
"England need to shake things up and they've got just a few days to get that sorted otherwise it will be a pretty lame performance.”
Botham is confident Stokes would be ready to play from the get-go.
"He's gone down to New Zealand, he's playing for Canterbury, he's netting, he's training, so there's not much more he can do other than getting on a plane to Perth, which would be sooner than later if it was down to me,” he said.