(Reuters) - Former England captain Michael Vaughan said the return of Ben Stokes to the squad for the Ashes tour could swing the series in their favour against an Australian side still scarred by the all-rounder's heroics at Headingley two years ago.
Stokes had taken an indefinite break from cricket in July to focus on his mental health, while also recovering from a second operation on a broken finger, and was not included in coach Chris Silverwood's initial squad for the series.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said on Monday, however, that Stokes would be available for the series, which is due to start on Dec. 8.
"Ben Stokes's return for the Ashes is huge," Vaughan wrote in his column in the Daily Telegraph.
"Without him, I would not have given England a chance in Australia; with him, they have a glimmer of hope -- and maybe a bit more than that.
"Stokes is the engine of this England team, the guy who powers them. Not only does he contribute massively himself, he lifts the performances of those around him, inspiring, cajoling and driving up standards."
Vaughan, who captained England from 2003 to 2008, said Stokes would also bring the fear factor due to his performance at Headingley in the third test of the 2019 Ashes series.
Regarded as one of the greatest batting displays in living memory, Stokes hit 135 not out, smashing the ball to all parts of the ground in a virtuoso display that included eight sixes, to give Joe Root's team a thrilling one-wicket victory.
"Crucially, he is also a player Australia fear," added Vaughan.
"The scars he inflicted on them at Headingley two years ago will not have fully healed, and the sight of him walking out at Brisbane -- or wherever he manages to play his first test -- will send a few shivers up local spines."
Australia retained the Ashes in 2019 after the series ended in a 2-2 draw.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford)