England all-rounder Ben Stokes is set to appear in court for the first time on Tuesday after being charged with affray following an incident outside a nightclub that cost him his place on the Ashes tour. The 26-year-old all-rounder, who missed the trip to Australia after being suspended from playing for England, is accused of affray with two other men and will appear at a magistrates’ court in the southwestern city of Bristol.
The charge effectively relates to fighting in public. It follows a fight in Bristol during the early hours of September 25 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 faces no charges. 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”.
The offence can be heard in either the magistrates’ court or a Crown Court. It carries a maximum penalty when tried in the magistrates’ court of a fine or up to six months in prison, and when tried in the Crown Court of up to three years in prison.
Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0. 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.
Stokes could make his England return in the one-day series against New Zealand which begins on February 25 after being included in a 15-man squad. He is due to play in the Indian Premier League after being sold for £1.4 million ($1.9 million) to the Rajasthan Royals.
-Inputs from AFP