Stokes to join England squad in New Zealand

Ben Stokes

LONDON: Ben Stokes will join the England squad in New Zealand after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray in court yesterday, the England and Wales Cricket Board said. “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 today, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team-mates in Hamilton.” All-rounder Stokes, accused of involvement in an altercation outside a nightclub in the southwestern English city of Bristol that cost him his place on the Ashes tour, pleaded not guilty to the charge of affray.

Stokes, who has not played for England since the incident cost him a place on the Ashes tour of Australia, was cleared for selection by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month.

His court appearance came on the day England played New Zealand in a T20 match in Wellington, their first game in a tri-series also involving Australia.

Stokes, 28-year-old Ryan Ali and 26-year-old Ryan Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of birth, addresses and nationalities. A spokesman for the magistrates’ court said all three were sent to Bristol Crown Court on unconditional bail for a hearing to start on March 12.

British media reports said all three had indicated they were acting in self-defence or defence of another. Stokes, vice-captain of the England Test team and one of world cricket’s most destructive batsmen, was arrested on Sept. 26 after scoring 73 in a 124-run one day international win over West Indies in the south-western city. – Agencies

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