THERE are rarely dull moments in English cricket but, even by their standards, the last 10 days have been a tumultuous period for the national team.

All cricket followers know the story by now - Ben Stokes and Alex Hales were out in Bristol celebrating England's ODI victory over the West Indies when violence broke out, ending in Stokes being arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.

Avon & Somerset Police's enquiries are ongoing, but the star all-rounder has been suspended from England selection until further notice and, at this point at least, seems unlikely to make the trip Down Under.

Stokes' possible absence would be a hammer blow to England's chances of retaining the urn, such is his importance to the side, but it could open up a huge opportunity for Somerset's uncapped seamer Craig Overton.

There are various options for England should Stokes not be present, and prime among them would be drafting the 23-year-old Barnstaple-born paceman into the XI for the First Test in Brisbane on November 23.

England's middle order batting is arguably the team's greatest strength, and a simple solution to a lack of Stokes would be to shift Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali up a place in the order to six and seven respectively, thereby creating space for an extra bowler.

Chris Woakes is more than capable of batting at eight but Stuart Broad at nine would be a risk given his struggles with the willow in recent years, particularly against the short ball.

For that reason, England may wish to strengthen their lower order and Overton, who bats at eight for Somerset and has a maiden First Class century to his name, would be the natural fit to fill the number nine vacancy.

Nottinghamshire's Jake Ball, the other reserve seamer in the squad, may feel aggrieved and there is certainly an argument that England should be picking their seam attack on how well they bowl, rather than their batting abilities in the tail.

However, England are unlikely to go into an Ashes Test with Broad, Ball and Anderson as 'nine, ten, Jack', leaving as it does the risk of Ali or Bairstow being stranded while the tail are blasted out.

It is not just Overton's batting that makes him a likely candidate - he has been in better bowling form than Ball in this year's County Championship and will be full of confidence off the back of Somerset's unlikely survival and his inclusion in the squad.

Both Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell picked the 23-year-old in a 'Stokes-less' side in Monday evening's 'Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show' on BBC Radio 5Live, with Tufnell saying "he would tell him to just go out there and bowl fast."

It would certainly be the exciting option for England to take, as opposed to packing the batting, and Overton could follow in Chris Tremlett's 2010/11 footsteps as a tall, consistent seamer who enjoys success in Australia.

The pitches are likely to suit the bounce he gains from his height and, though he doesn't bowl rockets, Overton maintains a steady pace and has an ability to send down unplayable deliveries - a 2017 County Championship economy rate of 2.76, meanwhile, reveals an ability to retain control.

At this stage, of course, this is all hypothetical. The charges may yet be dropped against Stokes, while much may depend on the three warm-up games which precede the Brisbane Test.

If Overton takes his Somerset form to Australia with him, however, he may find himself in pole position to spring a surprise or two this winter.