Steve Waugh has highlighted Ben Stokes' importance to England by claiming there'd be no hesitation to ban him from the Ashes if he was Australian.
Former national captain Waugh believes England face a difficult call on the vice-captain's Ashes availability despite his alleged involvement in a fight outside a bar.
"England without Ben Stokes, if he doesn't come, I don't think they can win the Ashes," Waugh told Sky Sports Radio on Tuesday.
"It's a tough one. If it was anyone in the Australian side, they wouldn't be picked.
"You can't do that these days in public. It just didn't look good and it's a bad image for the game.
"But I think they're pretty keen for him to play in Australia. He's probably they're best player. It'd be a real shame if he wasn't out here."
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has not made a final decision on Stokes' involvement in the five-Test tour this summer.
But it revealed the star all-rounder will not travel with the rest of the squad in late October.
The 26-year-old is under investigation by police having been arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm last month after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub.
Stokes, in the green shirt, in the brawl at Bristol. Pic: The Sun
Video footage purportedly showed Stokes wildly throwing punches in the fight between the player and two other people, one clutching a bottle.
Waugh has predicted Australia will convincingly regain the Ashes despite conceding several batsmen would lacking confidence after inconsistent form on the subcontinent in recent tours.
"Without Ben Stokes, we'll win. It's too much pressure on Broad and Anderson," Waugh said.
"They're getting a bit older and I can't see them playing five Test matches straight.
"I think Australia'll win 3-1."
The first Ashes Test begins on November 23 in Brisbane.