England make Ben Stokes AVAILABLE for selection after all-rounder charged with affray

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Ben Stokes has been cleared to return for England.
Ben Stokes has been cleared to return for England.

Ben Stokes will return to England duty next month after the England and Wales Cricket Board rescinded his suspension.

Stokes, 26, was made indefinitely unavailable after being arrested in September, following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub.

The all-rounder missed the 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia and was eventually charged with affray on Monday, January 15.

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Stokes was originally named in England’s ODI and T20I squad for the post-Ashes tour, but was withdrawn from the former, before being named in the Test squad to face New Zealand.

He is now free to resume his international career during the New Zealand leg of England’s forthcoming Twenty20 Tri-Series.

An ECB statement read: “Given the CPS decision to charge him and two others with affray, confirmation of his intention to contest the charge and the potential length of time to trial, the Board agreed that it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period.

“ECB fully respects the legal process and the player’s intention to defend himself against the charge.”

England face Australia in the second of five one-day internationals on Friday, but Stokes is not set to link back up with the side until the latter part of the subsequent Twenty20 Tri-Series involving both sides and New Zealand.

The delay in Stokes’ availability for the tri-series is believed to be in case there is a court appearance he would have to attend.

If all goes to plan, the 26-year-old could return to England colours against the Blacks Caps on February 13 and 18.

“England selectors, management and players have been informed and Ben Stokes is expected to join the squad in New Zealand for February’s T20 matches,” added the statement.

Stokes was charged on advice from the Crown Prosecution Service on Monday and will appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court at a later date.

The Christchurch-born cricketer later responded to the charges with a statement via Twitter.

He wrote: “I want to thank all those who have continued to support me in relation to the Bristol incident, not least my family, friends, fans and teammates.

“I gave a full and detailed account of my actions to the police on day one – the same day as the incident – and have cooperate at each step of the police inquiry. I am keen to have an opportunity to clear my name but, on advice, the appropriate time to do this is when the case comes to trial.

“The CPS’ decision to charge me, as well as Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, at least means that my account of what happened that night can come out in court and be made public. Until then, my focus is very much on cricket.”

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