Ben Stokes, the England allrounder, has been charged by the Crown Prosecution Service with affray, along with two other men, and will face trial at Bristol Magistrates’ Court at a later date.
The development comes more than three months after Stokes was arrested in Bristol on September 25, on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm following an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub.
He has now been charged by the CPS with the lesser public order offence of affray, which for a single offence can still carry with it a jail term of up to two years.
“The CPS was passed a file of evidence by Avon & Somerset Police on 29 November 2017 in relation to an incident of disorder in Bristol city centre,” CPS spokesman said. “Further material was subsequently received in late December. Following a review of all the available evidence, the CPS has today (Mon, 15 Jan) authorised the police to charge three men with affray in connection to the incident.”
The other two men have been named as Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, both of Bristol.
The incident occurred outside the Mbargo nightclub in the Clifton area of Bristol in the early hours of the morning after England’s one-day international against West Indies on September 25, and resulted in one of those involved suffering a broken eye socket.
Stokes returned to competitive action by playing for Canterbury in the domestic one-day and T20 competitions in New Zealand in December, for which he was granted a no-objection certificate by the ECB.
However, having been named in England’s current ODI and T20 squad for the tours of Australia and New Zealand, Stokes is set to be officially withdrawn from availability and is likely also to miss the Test tour of New Zealand in March and April, for which he was named last week. The ECB board is also expected to meet within the next 48 hours to discuss developments.
There is also the matter of the IPL auction, which is set to take place on January 27-28 and in which Stokes was last year picked up as the most expensive overseas signing in the tournament’s history.
The ECB’s chief executive, Tom Harrison, recently suggested it could take six months to a year to resolve the situation if Stokes is charged, as he has now been, although he added that the board would not prevent him from playing in competitions such as the IPL in the meantime, while he is out of the England set-up.
Stokes’ involvement, or otherwise, with England has overshadowed much of the winter. Having been initially named in the Ashes squad a few days after his arrest, footage was released by a newspaper appearing to show Stokes throwing a series of punches at a man in the street. England subsequently said he would not be considered for selection until investigations were complete. (ESPN)