Michael Vaughan says all-rounder Ben Stokes “does not deserve” a warm reception from England fans in the third Test against India on Saturday and “owes many an apology”.
Stokes, who missed the second Test while on trial, was involved in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September but was found not guilty of affray on Tuesday. England’s selectors wasted no time reinstating him into the squad for Trent Bridge within hours of the verdict.
“He has brought the game into disrepute,” Vaughan told BBC Sport. “Knowing the England cricket fans as I do, they will give him a reception. I don’t think he deserves that. “He’s certainly not a hero, as some have portrayed him to be.”
The former England captain believes Stokes should be allowed to return to the Test team but was surprised he had not considered taking a break from the game after the seven-day trial.
“I can’t get my head around why he wouldn’t want to take a little bit of time off – even if England wanted him. He’s just gone through eight days in crown court.”
“I thought he might have wanted to take a bit of a breather from the game – to just step back, assess what’s gone on and be close to his family. They’re the ones who have been put through a hell of a lot over the last 10 months.”
Stokes is a leading figure in the England dressing room and a firm favourite among the England faithful, but Vaughan believes he has a lot of work to do to rebuild his public image.
“I do think he owes many an apology,” he said. “The cricketing fans around Ben will cheer him and love him. But most away from cricket don’t see him in a great light at all. He has to win back quite a lot of people in terms of the perception of what he is.”
With Stokes likely to return for the third third Test, England have a real selection headache on their hands. Young Surrey batsman Ollie Pope, who made his debut at the age of 20 at Lord’s, is one player who could be dropped to accommodate the all-rounder.
“I don’t think it should be Pope [who makes way],” Vaughan added. “You could look at Jos Buttler. In two Test matches against India, he’s not really done a great deal.” Yesterday, Buttler himself admitted Ben Stokes would walk into any side in the world.
“You could drop Adil Rashid,” Vaughan suggested. “If the pitch is going to be the same as at Edgbaston and Lord’s and it’s going to swing around, do you need a spinner?”