The ECB must not take the “easy, soft option” when deciding how to punish Ben Stokes, according to former England captain Nasser Hussain.
On Tuesday, Stokes was found not guilt of affray for his role in the Bristol incident last September, leaving the legal proceedings at an end.
But the review process by the Cricket Disciplinary Commission (CDC), a body funded by but independent from the ECB, into Stokes and Alex Hales’ conduct, is only just beginning. And Hussain has urged suitable action be taken against them to protect the image of the game.
“This is the most important stage now,” he told Sky Sports News.
“The court case was huge for Stokes but now the ECB have to look at those images, which everyone has seen clearly, from a late night out in Bristol after an ODI. The Commission has to rule whether they are the sort of images they want portrayed from their cricket team.
“They could take the easy, soft option and say: ‘It’s been tough for Ben already, he’s missed the Ashes, one of the great series’ but I think that would be missing the point.
“They need to make a detailed and informed decision on whether those images are right for English cricket.”
With the CDC process ongoing, Stokes has been immediately added to the squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge starting on Saturday. And, Hussain added, should be included in the XI, providing he’s in a proper mental state.
“As far as selection goes, Ben is one of the best XI cricketers in the country and has been found innocent in a court of law, although, obviously, Trevor Bayliss and Joe Root have to look at Ben mentally.
“I am amazed how well he has coped mentally over the last few months with this hanging over him and as long as they feel he is mentally fit for selection then they should pick him.”