Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is not confident that England will have a shot in the upcoming Ashes series without Ben Stokes.
Stokes was arrested on Monday (25 September) after he was caught on video involved in a violent brawl, with footage showing him appearing to throw up to 15 punches in an incident that left him with a broken finger.
The 26-year-old was detained overnight and released, proceeding to be named in England's squad for this winter's Ashes series.
However, he has since been suspended until further notice along with Alex Hales, who was present with him, putting the duo's involvement in the high-pressure Test series at risk.
Chappell believes England will need Stokes if they have any hopes of retaining the Ashes.
"With Ben Stokes in the team, England have a realistic chance of retaining the Ashes," he wrote for CricInfo. "If he is missing through suspension following his late-night altercation in Bristol, then there's more chance of the Brexit decision being reversed than of England clinging to the urn."
"That's the dilemma facing the England hierarchy. If Stokes is convicted, they will have little choice but to seal his fate. The ECB will then be taking a decision it knows will almost certainly sentence the team to defeat.
"Nevertheless Stokes is innocent until proven guilty, so let's proceed with a breakdown of the two teams on the basis that he'll be in Australia, receiving endless taunts both on and off the field."
Chappell adds that it is not only Stokes' ability that will be missed but his character and ability to make a difference when it matters.
"It's not only Stokes' skill with bat, ball and in the field that makes a difference to England but also his competitive aura," Chappell added. "His match-winning capabilities drag his team-mates along with him, and because he's not overawed by an opponent, it helps to boost any England player who feels overmatched in Australia."
"He is a serious difference-maker."
With the interest in Test cricket gradually declining over the years, the 74-year-old also issued a warning that the highly-anticipated Ashes series could be affected by the absence of the England all-rounder.
"The upcoming Ashes series has the potential to be just what Test cricket desperately needs: a highly competitive and hard-fought contest," he explained.
"However, it will be severely diminished if Stokes is absent, meaning that Australia could virtually wrap up the series before a ball is even bowled, following a blow delivered by one of their fiercest opponents."