Melbourne [Australia], Sept 30 : Coming fresh of an ODI century, wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow believes that England's batting line-up has the strength to compete in the Ashes series against Australia despite the probable absence of star all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Stokes' role in the upcoming Ashes series has come under serious doubt after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that he and team-mate Alex Hales will not be considered for selection in the international matches until further notice.

The Test vice-captain, however, was named in England's Ashes squad, despite injuring his hand in the incident that led to his arrest in Bristol on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.

And although Bairstow has full faith on his side's batsmen, he admitted that they need to learn quickly as they plan for Australia not even knowing if Stokes would be on the plane.

Bairstow's comments came after he struck a brilliant 141-run knock to help England thump the West Indies by nine wickets to seal a 4-0 win in the five-match ODI series and end a long campaign on a high note.

"I'm pretty pleased. It's nice to finish a long summer with some runs and head into the winter with confidence. You wait a long time for a first hundred and when it comes you want to capitalize," quoted Bairstow as saying.

"If selection doesn't go your way, you have to bide your time and take the chance when it comes. Do please let me know another side in the world that's got 50 first-class hundreds in those three or four batting positions. That's been a strength of ours over a period of time and will continue to be," he said.

"We're very fortunate to have all-rounders in those positions, whether that be in one-day cricket, T20 cricket or Test cricket," Bairstow added.

Although the Joe Root-led side are Ashes holders they have lost two out of their past three tours Down Under by 5-0.

England will now be desperate to hit the ground running when the two sides meet at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 23.

(Posted on 30 September 2017, 1675574282 3O236O47O240)