Ben Stokes to join England squad in New Zealand after pleading not guilty to affray charges

The 26-year-old Stokes appeared at Bristol Magistrates' Court in the southwest of England along with two other men and will next appear at Bristol Crown Court on 12 March.

AFP, Feb 13, 2018 19:35:12 IST

Bristol: Ben Stokes will join the England squad in New Zealand after the star all-rounder pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of affray over a nightclub incident that forced him out of the Ashes tour.

Ben Stokes to join England squad in New Zealand after pleading not guilty to affray charges

England cricketer Ben Stokes arrives at Bristol Magistrates Court in Bristol. Reuters

The 26-year-old all-rounder appeared at Bristol Magistrates' Court in the southwest of England along with two other men and will next appear at Bristol Crown Court on 12 March.

The England and Wales Cricket Board issued a statement shortly after Stokes's first court appearance confirming his travel plans but he is not expected to make an immediate return after nearly five months out of the side.

"Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates' Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad," said an ECB spokesman.

"He departs tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England teammates in Hamilton."

The statement said any decision to include him in upcoming matches would be made by the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing T20I tri-series against New Zealand and Australia.

England start a five-match one-day international series against New Zealand on 25 February, followed by two Tests.

"(The) ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments," added the statement.

Stokes, who missed England's 4-0 Ashes drubbing after being suspended from playing for England, appeared at the court in Bristol along with Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale.

Altercation

Tuesday's court appearance follows the altercation during the early hours of 25 September last year, several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city.

It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present. Hales faced no charges.

Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities. The clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.

Stokes is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another.

The charge states that his "conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety". The other two defendants face the same charge.

All three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at a crown court, with the offence carrying a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison.

"I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be 12 March," said district judge Simon Cooper. "You will be on bail."

In a statement posted on Twitter last month after he was charged, Stokes said he was "keen to have an opportunity to clear my name".

While England were in Australia, Stokes played a few games for Canterbury Kings during a month-long spell in New Zealand before returning home to England.

He is due to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after being sold for £1.4 million ($1.9 million) to the Rajasthan Royals.

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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2018 19:35:12 IST






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2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 4366 104
5 Australia 3270 99
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Rank Team Points Rating
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2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 5019 98
Rank Team Points Rating
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2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4720 262
4 India 8620 261
5 Australia 5471 261
6 New Zealand 4784 252