Stokes back in England contention, but still faces threat of disciplinary action

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Ben Stokes is back in England’s Test reckoning against India this weekend, but must still wait significantly longer to discover any further consequences following his affray acquittal.

England added their premier all-rounder to a squad of 13 for the third Test after he was cleared at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday lunchtime.

The England and Wales Cricket Board also confirmed, in a statement released within two hours of the end of the case, that the Cricket Discipline Commission investigation can re-convene into the behaviour of Stokes and his team-mate Alex Hales on a night out in Bristol last September.

That process was halted 11 months ago while criminal proceedings took precedence, and will not resume imminently, allowing all parties and their advisers to first consider the details and ramifications of what was put before the court over the past week.

The CDC, chaired by solicitor and former first-class batsman Tim O’Gorman, operates at ‘arm’s length’ from the ECB, as spelled out in background information on the governing body’s website.

It has the remit in all cases to impose penalties ranging from caution as to future conduct, reprimand, unlimited fine or suspension and termination of registration.

The ECB clarified the latest situation in its statement soon after the Bristol jury unanimously cleared Stokes and co-defendant Ryan Ali over events when a fight broke out in a street close to a nightclub in the Clifton area of the city.

Alex Hales File Photo (Simon Cooper/PA)
Alex Hales will also be subject to the Cricket Discipline Commission investigation (Simon Cooper/PA)

“Ben Stokes will now join the England squad for the 3rd Specsavers Test against India, which starts at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

“Considerable detail has been heard in this week-long court case and, in due course, there will be a range of matters for the board to fully consider.”

Last September, England ruled their premier all-rounder out of the remainder of the ongoing one-day international series against West Indies and then last winter’s Ashes, before his return during the tour of New Zealand.

The 27-year-old stayed in the team this summer, apart from a spell out with a hamstring injury, until he had to miss last week’s Lord’s Test victory because of a clash with his court case.

He is now on course help Joe Root’s hosts again as they bid to extend a 2-0 series lead over India, with three matches to play.

Ben Stokes’s lawyer Paul Lunt reads out a statement outside Bristol Crown Court (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Ben Stokes’s lawyer Paul Lunt reads out a statement outside Bristol Crown Court (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Stokes’ team-mate Jonny Bairstow voiced his hopes, after the verdict but in advance of the ECB’s latest announcement, that he and Stokes would be playing together again soon.

He told Sky Sports News: “It has been a long 10 months for him and his family.

“I’m delighted and hope we can see him back in an England shirt very soon.”

England v India – Specsavers Second Test – Day Four – Lord’s (Adam Davy/PA)
Chris Woakes put in a man-of-the-match performance as Ben Stokes’ Lord’s understudy against India (Adam Davy/PA)

It contains a winning team, in which his Lord’s understudy Chris Woakes put in a man-of-the-match performance and fellow all-rounder Sam Curran also consolidated his position.

Stokes’ county club Durham, meanwhile, issued a one-line confirmation that he will not be available for their Vitality Blast fixture on Friday, at a time when he will instead be preparing with England in Nottingham.

There was a further statement from the Professional Cricketers’ Association, pledging ongoing support as required by Stokes and Hales.

It read: “As with any of our members who face difficult situations, we provide the appropriate assistance.

“We have been working with Ben and his legal team over the last 10 months and have provided our support throughout.

“The PCA will continue to provide that support to Ben and Alex Hales including during the disciplinary proceedings.”

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