England axe Stokes for fourth ODI after assault arrest

Time & Us
Last Updated: September 28, 2017 at 2:59 am

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol and dropped for Wednesday’s fourth One-day International against West Indies.

The 26-year-old Durham star was arrested early on Monday in the Clifton district of the city and released under investigation — without being charged — the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Tuesday.

Both Stokes and opening batsman Alex Hales, 28, who was with him on Sunday night, will miss the game at The Oval.

A statement issued by Avon and Somerset police said: “We were called to a disorder in Queens Road, Clifton, at around 2:35am (0135 GMT) on Monday.

“A 27-year-old man was found to have suffered facial injuries and was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.

“A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and has since been released under investigation.”

The incident happened following England’s 124-run win in the third ODI — where Stokes made 73 — in Bristol on Sunday that put them 2-0 up in a five-match series against West Indies.

Wednesday’s fixture takes place just hours after England are due to unveil their squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

ECB England cricket director Andrew Strauss, reading from a prepared statement to reporters at The Oval on Tuesday, said: “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be available for tomorrow’s [Wednesday’s] One-day International against West Indies at The Oval.

“Stokes was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning following an incident in Bristol,” the former England captain added as he continued to read out from the statement. “He was held overnight and released under investigation — without charge — late on Monday and will not join the team in London.

“Hales, who was with Stokes on Sunday night, did not train this [Tuesday] morning and has returned voluntarily to Bristol today to help police with their enquiries.”

The flame-haired Stokes, vice-captain of the England Test team and one of world cricket’s most destructive batsmen, would expect to be one of the first names on the list for the Australia tour.

Strauss also confirmed both Stokes and Hales, a fringe candidate who played the last of his 13 Tests 11 months ago, will be considered for the Ashes on cricketing grounds alone.

“The selectors have been instructed to select the Ashes squad based on form and fitness,” Strauss told Sky Sports in a subsequent interview.

England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan said Jason Roy would replace Hales on the Surrey opener’s home ground, with pacemen Jake Ball and Tom Curran vying for Stokes’s spot.

“We feel we have a strong enough squad to be able to fill that hole,” insisted Morgan. “It’s important we can put this to one side and focus on our cricket.”

Stokes was sent home from an England Lions tour in Australia in 2012-13, alongside team-mate Matt Coles, for flouting a ban on late-night drinking.

He was also sidelined from the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 with a broken hand after punching a dressing-room locker in Barbados in frustration following a poor run of form.

In an interview with The Times magazine published on Saturday, Stokes was asked if he no longer drank alcohol on evenings out during a five-day Test.

“Yeah, why not?,” he replied. “We’re grown men, go out for dinner, have a few pints. I’m 26, not 14. I don’t have to drink Diet Cokes with dinner.”

Meanwhile West Indies coach Stuart Law said the absence of Stokes and Hales was “nothing to do with us”.

But asked bat The Oval on Tuesday whether current cricketers had to be careful on a night out, former Australia batsman Law answered: “With the invasion of the social media, you can’t really breathe without people knowing it. You are role models, you are people that the young kids and general public look up to.

“We were pretty lucky in our era [when Law played alongside the likes of Mark Taylor, Steve and Mark Waugh, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath] — it wasn’t as intrusive as what the social media can be in this day and age.

“But look, professional cricketers they get paid a good wage these days, no matter where they are playing, they get decent money and along with that comes responsibility.”