To be or not to be: that is the question. Well then, Ben Stokes is the answer. You would want to be the audacious player that Stokes is, but you rather not follow the wild acts that he does beyond the field.
If beers are best enjoyed with a friend, then Alex Hales needs to be a teetotaller. Stokes is that friend, whom his former friends had warned you about. When Stokes says let's grab a couple of cold ones, he is not saying two.
Old habits die hard as Stokes has found himself in another controversy ahead of the much-awaited Ashes selection. This, though, shouldn't come as a surprise.
In December 2011, Stokes, England's Test vice-captain, was arrested in Cumbria on a night out for obstructing policeman in his duty. It was believed to be alcohol-related incident. However, he was released subsequently without any charge.
Two years later, he along with teammate Matt Coles, were sent home from an England Lions tour to Australia for late night drinking. It was later learnt that they had also ignored a written warning, which they had been given earlier in the tour.
“On a very challenging tour to Australia, both Matt and Ben have ignored the instructions given to them around their match preparation and recovery. Following previous warnings, it is regrettable that it has been necessary to terminate their involvement in the tour,” David Parsons, then England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) performance director was quoted as saying.
To make matters worse for Stokes, in 2014, he fractured his right hand after punching a locker during a Caribbean tour. As a result of which, he had to miss the World Twenty20.
He also has had a lot of on-field discipline issues. A verbal spat with Windies' Marlon Samuels in 2015 resulted in the latter giving him a big saluting send-off. Most recently, he was reprimanded and handed one demerit point during the home series against Windies for using “obscene, offensive or insulting” language towards a referee.
However, Stokes is not the only cricketer who has faced these issues in his career. Here is a list of some other players who have had their share of controversy in the past:
Freddie's Fredalo incident
While it might make for a fun story on reel when Ross and Chandler from the hit sitcom – FRIENDS– partied so hard that they ended on a boat with their college buddy Gandalf. England's all-rounder Andrew Flintoff did it for real. After losing to New Zealand in their opening game of 2007 World Cup, few English players decided to head to a bar in St. Lucia. The drinking spree went on into early hours of next morning. Later, Flintoff desired for a nightcap with Ian Botham, who apparently was on a yacht.
On Piers Morgan's Life Stories, the Ashes 2005 hero revealed,"I thought: 'I can't swim... that would be dangerous', so I was going to get a kayak. I couldn't find the oars, so I dragged this pedalo into the water. The next morning I woke up, I was on my bed and… still wet and… sand between my toes."
Flintoff was criticised heavily from all corners, he was suspended for the next match in the tournament against Canada by the ECB. Subsequently, he was stripped off his vice-captaincy, reprimanded by then coach Duncan Fletcher and to top it all off even his skipper Michael Vaughan said the 'fredalo' incident affected the morale of the team citing one of the reason for the England's exit before the semi-finals.
Who knows Ross and Chandler perhaps mistook Flintoff for Gandalf, they wouldn't know, they were drunk.
David Warner takes a swipe at Joe Root
During the early hours of 9 June 2013 , after Australia's loss to England in a Champions Trophy tie previous night, Australia's explosive batsman David Warner landed a glancing punch on England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar.
The scuffle was sparked allegedly over Root fooling around with his pals, wearing fake beard. Not impressed by Root's wig gig Warner, who to his own admission let his aggression and alcohol take over him, knocked out the Yorkshire lad.
Subsequently Warner faced disciplinary actions and Cricket Australia announced that Warner was to be fined £7,000 and was suspended from playing for his country until the first Ashes' Test in the English summer of 2013. Warner missed the rest of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy and the tour matches against Somerset and Worcestershire.
Later Warner issued an apology and considers the event the turning point of his career.
Ryder rode on thin ice
Jesse Ryder was easily one of the most ballistic cricketers hailing from New Zealand. The left-handed batsman always figured out a way to find himself in the news for all the wrong reasons. Ryder made his T20I and ODI debut for New Zealand in February 2008 against England. By the end of the series on 26 February 2008 he managed to find himself in a predicament. During a night out at a Christchurch bar, Ryder smashed a toilet window in drunken rage. And in the process injured his hand, ruling him out of cricket for 3 months. Ever since then the southpaw has thrived on thin ice.
Ryder went on to miss team meetings, training session and flights due to reckless heavy drinking. Senior batsman Ross Taylor went on record to offer help to the talented cricketer but he poured himself another glass. In August 2010 he was dropped from the team on the grounds of 'intoxicated and rowdy' behaviour. Two years later Ryder announced that he wanted to take an indefinite break from cricket citing personal issues.
Blackcaps' all-rounder found form, scored runs even picked wickets occasionally. He had a serious talent to cement his place in the side but he downed the opportunity. Ryder continued to scull drinks and the situation in March 2013 got so disorderly and ugly that he had to be hospitalised and placed in an induced coma after being assaulted twice outside a bar in Christchurch. Due to his indisciplinary issues he was never a certainty in the team, Ryder last played for the Blackcaps in January 2014, although his larger than life character struck a chord with the fans.
The 33-year-old continues to play first class cricket back home and recently participated in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) representing St. Lucia Stars.
David Hookes dies in a brawl
Former Australian Cricketer and Victoria's head coach David Hookes succumbed in January 2004, after suffering from several head injuries. Hookes was indulging in some merry time when a verbal dispute with a hotel bouncer escalated into a fight leading to the unfortunate incident. Hookes never recovered from the bouncer's blow and was announced dead the following day. Bouncer, Zdravko Micevic, was acquitted at a September 2005 trial. He gave evidence that Hookes threatened to publicly criticise hotel staff and he threw the single punch in self-defence after being struck twice in the stomach by Hookes.
When Punter woke up with a blackened eye
Before Ricky Ponting became the legend we know today, Australia's two-time World Cup winning captain, had to put days of binge-drinking behind him. On one such nights, Punter was involved in feud only to be knocked unconscious at a Sydney bar. Embarrassingly Ponting didn't have the memory of the rest of the night as he woke up to a black eye next morning. Then Australian Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Mal Speed described Ponting as "an amazing talent and a great cricketer,'' who had brought disrepute to himself and the team, after letting himself down very badly. Just 24 then, it wasn't the first instance of indiscpline behaviour by Ponting, he was also fined for a nightclub brawl in Calcutta in 1999.
Post the Sydney bar incident, Ponting was made to address the media where the batsman said, he was embarrassed about the whole situation and vowed to work hard on his game and not repeat his behaviour. The Tasmanian remained true to his word as he went on to have one of the most successful career's of all time and remains Australia's highest run scorer in Tests as well as ODIs to date.
There have been several other players involved in drunken controversy, let alone players, even the England team got carried in the euphoria of celebrations after winning the Ashes 3-0 in 2013, to an extend that they urinated on the The Oval's pitch. Video footage of few players wetting the pitch was also found. The players and the board apologised in a statement having disrespected the sport and the supporters without agreeing the the allegations.