Fast bowler Mitchell Starc has urged Australian fans to “get stuck into” England bad boy Ben Stokes if he makes the trip for the upcoming Ashes, calling for them to be “very loud”.
Test vice-captain Stokes was arrested last month in Britain on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and suspended from internationals until further notice following an apparent fight outside a nightclub.
He was released without charge but remains under investigation.
Stokes was included in the Ashes squad but the England and Wales Cricket Board on Friday said he would not travel with the rest of the players when they leave on October 28.
No final decision on his involvement has been made, but if he does play the powerful allrounder faces a hostile reception.
“You can only imagine,” Starc said in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday on what reception awaits Stokes.
“I guess I’d love if he was out here. I’d love for the Australian crowd to get stuck into him the way the Poms (English) get stuck into our blokes over there.
“Regardless of whether he’s here or not, I think the atmosphere is going to be great at all the grounds.
“I’m really looking forward to that atmosphere and if Ben is playing I’m sure it’s going to be hyped up and really loud. But I’m sure Ben knows how to cope with that sort of stuff if he does play.”
Stokes’ absence would be a huge blow for England, who have lost two out of their past three tours Down Under 5-0 and are desperate to hit the ground running in the first Test in Brisbane on November 23.
Starc has been subjected to taunting from beyond the boundary in England in the past, while other Australian players have also been the butt of English sledging.
He is encouraging crowds in Australia to give the tourists a hostile welcome with or without Stokes, believing it can make a material difference to the performance of some players.
“Why not? Go for it. The Aussie boys will be backing you all the way in,” he said.
“On certain people I think it can (affect their performance),” he said.
“For certain guys, if they’re copping it in the crowd they enjoy the banter, they give it back and really enjoy that atmosphere and that banter both ways with the crowd.
“Other guys will go into their shell and it might affect their cricket.”