There's Been A New Twist In The Ben Stokes Saga

Gay men come forward and say Ben Stokes protected them from homophobic thugs in Bristol street brawl

"If Ben hadn't intervened it could have been a lot worse for us".

"It's each to their own and David can do it however he wants and we'll just react by playing our best cricket, which is what I'm sure they'll try and do as well".

The pair, who also said they had no idea that Stokes and Hales were cricketers, claimed to have been subjected to homophobic abuse in the club and again outside the venue. "Ben was a real gentleman", Barry said.

There's been a fresh twist in the story behind Ben Stokes' arrest, with two gay men claiming the England star was defending them from a potential hate crime. The first Test begins in Brisbane on November 23.

Root was asked about his erstwhile teammate at his first press conference after arriving in Perth.

The couple said they were dancing when someone called them "batty boys", a derogatory term for gays. "And that's probably why Ben Stokes stood up for me". "It is disappointing that he's not going to be on the trip but you have to move on and move forward as a team", he said.

"We've got to plan as if he's not going to be here and give ourselves the best chance".

England lead the ledger in recent series, having won five of the past seven Ashes, including winning in Australia for the first time in 24 years in 2010-11.

He insists the tourists have enough experience in Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and James Anderson to get the job done. So James Anderson - although he had a wonderful series in 2010-11 when he made the ball swing, reverse-swing and nearly talk - has an overall record in Australia of 43 wickets at 38 runs each.

Reports in the Sun over the weekend appeared to make an appearance from Stokes more likely but Root said such stories would not change England's preparation: they are planning for a series without their talismanic all-rounder.

Root has scored more than 5000 runs in 60 Tests at an average of 53.76 including 13 centuries, but the previous Ashes tour ended with him being dropped for the Sydney finale after he managed a meagre 192 runs in four Tests at a lowly average of 27.42.

"That's a great motivation for this one".

Prior to Ashes series, England captain Joe Root has dismissed allegations on his team of being indulged in drinking culture.

"I wouldn't say that's exactly how I go about it".

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