Ben Stokes in line for central cricket contract despite arrest
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is expected to include England test vice-captain Ben Stokes and Alex Hales in their list of new annual central contracts.
The New Zealand-born Stokes' name will be the most notable when the ECB announces which players will be contracted for the next 12 months.
There are no cricketing reasons why the allrounder and one-day international opener Hales should not retain their status.
Stokes' Ashes prospects remain in jeopardy as - with time running desperately short - England await the next stage in a police investigation after his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.
His hopes of boarding the plane with the rest of captain Joe Root's squad appear to fade with every day that ticks by.
He is in England's squad but, with Hales, is suspended from international selection until further notice.
Stokes was arrested 10 days ago after disorder outside a Bristol nightclub.
The 26-year-old had been released without charge but is under investigation by Avon and Somerset police. Two days later, England picked him as planned in their Ashes squad and retained him as vice-captain.
The next update in police inquiries is unlikely to come before mid-month at the earliest.
ECB director Andrew Strauss announced last week the governing body's own disciplinary investigation into Stokes and Hales over the disturbance early on September 25 in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol.
But it was only after a video allegedly showing footage of the incident was posted on The Sun's website that the ECB suspended both from future selection, pending a Cricket Discipline Commission inquiry into the incident.
Stokes' chances of heading to Australia at the end of the month therefore appear slim.
With or without him, England know they will have to overcome challenges on and off the pitch in Australia - as record wicket-taker James Anderson has spelled out.
The 35-year-old is a veteran of three Ashes tours, two which ended in whitewash defeats with a famous series victory in 2010-11 in between.
"Once we get there, the only focus will be beating Australia, but there are always distractions when we tour there," said Anderson, who will arrive with a 506 Test wickets to his name.
"What we need to do as a team, whether things happen or not, the next few weeks is about getting yourself ready - as an individual - to play in an Ashes series.
"It's just a case of being strong enough and having that tunnel vision to focus on the individual and as a team and what will help the team win the series."