Ben Stokes has been added to England’s 13-man squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge, which gets underway on Saturday, after being found not guilty of affray at Bristol Crown Court.
Stokes, who missed the Lord’s Test due to his appearance in court, played a key role in England’s victory in the first Test at Edgbaston a fortnight ago, claiming three wickets on a tense final morning to secure a 31-run win.
His place was taken at Lord’s by Chris Woakes, who picked up the Man of the Match award for his century and four wickets. However, Stokes’ England team-mate Jonny Bairstow welcomed the prospect of his swift return.
“I’m delighted for him, and hopefully we can see him back in an England shirt very, very soon because we saw the impact that he had at Edgbaston only a couple of weeks ago in the first Test match,” Bairstow told Sky Sports. “We’re here to concentrate on the cricket and I’m sure that’s what he’ll want to get back to as soon as possible.”
However, Stokes’ availability for the Test does not necessarily mean that he will face no further sanction for his involvement in the brawl outside Mbargo nightclub on the morning of September 25.
The ECB is expected to convene a Cricket Discipline Commission, which will consider whether Stokes or Alex Hales, who was also present during the incident, should face any sanction. However, ESPNcricinfo understands that this may not take place until the end of the English cricket season.
“Now that the legal proceedings have concluded, the disciplinary process for Ben Stokes and Alex Hales can be scheduled by the Cricket Discipline Commission [CDC],” said the ECB in a statement.
“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.”
It has not gone unnoticed by the ECB that both men were out late at night – the incident occurred after 2.30am – with two games left to play in the series and that Stokes was alleged to have been “really very drunk” by the prosecution.
Any possible sanction by the CDC will take into account that Stokes has already missed the Ashes tour as a result of the episode – Hales also missed two ODIs at the end of the 2017 English domestic season – and Stokes’ solicitor, Paul Lunt, drew attention to the amount of cricket-related punishment that he had already received for his actions.
“In addition to the extreme stress placed on Ben and his family by the trial, his intervention that night has already cost Ben the England vice-captaincy, his place on an Ashes tour, and his place in a number of other England matches,” said Lunt.
“The past 11 months have served to highlight to Ben just how highly he values his position as an England representative, both in terms of the privilege that role entails and the responsibilities that accompany it. Now that the trial is over, Ben is keen to getting back to cricket being his sole focus.”