BRISBANE: The pre-Ashes banter continued to hit the headlines with suspended England all-rounder Ben Stokes taking a dig at former Australia opener Matthew Hayden's comments on the rookie English batting in the run-up to the first Test at the Gabba here from Thursday.
Discussing the England Ashes squad on a Brisbane Heat podcast, Hayden said he was unimpressed with the inexperienced middle order comprising Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan.
"The Poms are a rabble. I look down half of the list and I honestly don't even know who half of these guys are," Hayden said as reported by cricket.com.au.
"What (England) have got is some extremely experienced fast bowlers in (Stuart) Broad and (James) Anderson. You have two particularly good batsmen as well in (Alastair) Cook and Joe Root.
"Apart from that - you throw a blanket over those four - who are they?
Hayden, who formed a formidable Test opening combination with Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist during his playing days, further said: "If I was the captain I'd be saying to Mitch Starc that when those four (English) players are there, you are just there to break them.
"Whatever it takes, break them, especially at the Gabba," Hayden said.
Responding to the Queenslander's comments, Stokes, who is awaiting the completion of a probe into the Bristol brawl to join the English squad, said: "Hayden says he doesn't know who half our squad is....only 2 from the squad haven't played at International level.....he's a cricket pundit yeah??"
Of England's 17-man squad -- of which Stokes remains a part of, despite being suspended and awaiting the outcome of a police investigation into his late-night altercation -- back-up wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and fast bowler Craig Overton have yet to be capped by England.