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Ben Stokes’ England comeback delayed by new court date

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ben Stokes’ England comeback is likely to be delayed after he was given a date of February 13 to attend Bristol Magistrates’ Court to answer a charge of affray – the day England face New Zealand in a T20I, which had been earmarked as a potential return.

The Durham all-rounder was cleared for selection by the ECB on Wednesday, before Stokes tweeted: “I’m extremely delighted to be given this opportunity to do this again. I can’t wait to get back out on a pitch with the three Lions on my chest.”

Ben Stokes Trevor Bayliss

Bayliss: “England will welcome him back with open arms”

England head coach Trevor Bayliss would prefer Stokes to gain some match-action before returning to the international arena, with Canterbury in New Zealand, where he enjoyed a successful stint before Christmas, a potential option. But his upcoming court date could scupper such a deal.

“Hopefully we can get him some cricket somewhere as part of his practice going into the New Zealand leg. That’ll be up to him,” Bayliss told the BBC. “It’s all about performance. We want him to be up and running and ready to go. I think there’s a few legal things to get through in the next week or so, 10 days, but then it’s about being prepared to play.”

Ben Stokes Canterbury

Ben Stokes during his spell with Canterbury

Stokes’ September arrest after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub kick-started a set of off-field dramas, which have blighted England’s winter. Despite being named in England’s Ashes squad and the ODI squad to face Australia, Stokes missed the entire tour with the police investigation ongoing. He was charged with affray on January 15.

According to Bayliss, while the situation was “certainly something we’d rather not have had to deal with”, England will “welcome him back with open arms”. He added: “The players and coaches are looking forward to seeing him. He’s a very popular member of the team and the squad.

“We’re fully aware of why he wasn’t available, that’s fair enough… it’s just the way it was. We set about competing in that Ashes series knowing we didn’t have him. That’s resigned to history now and we’re looking forward.

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