Sports

Ben Stokes to return to NZ after not-guilty plea

Ben Stokes to return to NZ after not-guilty plea

A day after England allrounder Ben Stokes pleaded not guilty to the affray charges on him following an incident in the city of Bristol last September, England coach Trevor Bayliss said that it is unlikely the cricketer will play a part in the first ODI against New Zealand on February 25, in spite of him being available for the same.

Stokes will not have to return to the United Kingdom for a pre-trial hearing in Bristol on March 12.

A statement from the European Central Bank confirmed Stokes will arrive on Friday but added he is unlikely to play in England's last T20 round-robin match of the Tri-Series against the Kiwis in Hamilton on Sunday. He is not now being considered for the ongoing T20I tri-series against New Zealand and Australia.

England head coach Trevor Bayliss has admitted that he is glad to have all-rounder Ben Stokes back in the national team.

He hasn't played an global since September 24 when he scored 72 against West Indies in Bristol, then a few hours later was involved in a fight outside a nightclub in which a 27-year-old man allegedly suffered a fractured eye socket.

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.

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Yet the European Central Bank statement emphasised any obligations he has within the legal process "will always take precedence" over his England commitments.

England start a five-match one-day global series against New Zealand on 25 February, followed by two Tests. Media reports said Stokes, 28-year-old Ryan Ali and 26-year-old Ryan Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of birth, addresses and nationalities. He was arrested in the early hours of September 25 on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm; his England team-mate Alex Hales was also present and is likely to be called as a witness as the trial. The charges were read to them and they all pleaded not guilty.

District Judge Simon Cooper, who also granted Mr Hale and Mr Ali unconditional bail, sent the case to trial at Bristol Crown Court. But all three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at the crown court.

Stokes was charged with affray last month, having not been considered for selection during England's tour of Australia while police investigated the Bristol incident.

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

Stokes is expected to feature in England's two tests against New Zealand at Auckland and Christchurch next month.


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