London: Ben Stokes has labelled allegations that he and his wife Clare were involved in a physical altercation at an awards ceremony as "totally irresponsible".
The all-rounder played a starring role in England's maiden World Cup win in July before repeating his heroics to help salvage an Ashes draw with Australia.
The 28-year-old Durham player was honoured for those achievements when he was named players' player of the year at last week's Professional Cricketers' Association awards in London.
On Tuesday, pictures emerged of Stokes and his wife seemingly involved in a physical confrontation at the event.
Clare Stokes defended her husband in a Twitter post which included a photo of her pushing the cricketer's face, in apparent mockery of the images that surfaced from the awards night.
"Unbelievable what nonsense these people will make up!" she said.
"Me and Ben messing about squishing up each other's faces cos that's how we show affection and some pap tries to twist it into a crazy story! And all before we then have a romantic McDonalds 20 mins later!"
Unbelievable what nonsense these people will make up! Me and Ben messing about squishing up each other’s faces cos that’s how we show affection and some pap tries to twist it in to a crazy story! And all before we then have a romantic McDonalds 20 mins later! @benstokes38 pic.twitter.com/1HmPV1ZfxG
— Clare Stokes (@clarey_11) October 8, 2019
The New Zealand-born cricketer responded to his wife's tweet with a face blowing a kiss emoji.
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) October 8, 2019
Stokes later responded with a statement to the Daily Mirror newspaper in which he paid tribute to the "wonderful relationship" he and his wife enjoy.
"I have become used to people making stuff up about me, but of all the topics not to mess with, domestic abuse has to be at the top of the list," he said.
"It's an incredibly serious issue for thousands of women — and men — who do suffer domestic abuse."
"To falsify and spread these kind of allegations so willingly is totally irresponsible," he added. "The way that this has come across is so far removed from what it was."
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison said in a statement: "We have spoken with both Clare and Ben, as well as others in attendance, who have all clarified the innocent context behind the still photographs taken at last week's PCA awards."
Last month Stokes condemned as "utterly disgusting" a front-page story in the Sun newspaper reporting on a family tragedy from more than three decades ago.
He said it touched on "deeply personal and traumatic events" involving the deaths of members of his New Zealand-based family more than 30 years ago.
In August last year, Stokes was found not guilty of affray following a brawl outside a nightclub but was charged by the ECB with bringing the game into disrepute and subsequently banned for eight games, all of which were deemed to have been served.