England and Wales Cricket Board CEO Tom Harrison gave the strongest indication yet that the board is intending to get all-rounder Ben Stokes into the team for the Ashes. Harrison said that the ECB has been forced into a “holding pattern” as it awaits to know whether Stokes will be charged by authorities for allegedly causing bodily harm in a brawl outside a pub in Bristol.
“What happened was wrong, there’s no question about that,” said Harrison, speaking at the Deltatre Sport Industry Breakfast Club in London. “You don’t want to see your sport in that position and there are consequences of that. We’re in a holding pattern at the minute.”
The ECB had announced that Stokes would be allowed to play for England until investigation had reached a conclusion. Steve Finn was intially selected as a replacement but the pacer had to withdraw from the tour following a knee injury. England then had to call up Tom Curran as a replacement but calls for bringing back Ben Stokes into the fold has been increasing.
“There’s a process with the police and then a disciplinary process,” said Harrison, “As you’ll appreciate, these things take time and that’s the pattern we’re in at the moment.”
The ECB disciplinary process is underway and, according Cricinfo, if Stokes escaped police charges, he could be facing a two-match suspension which makes him available for the third Test. “It’s complicated,” Harrison said. “We can’t go into any kind of detail about police matters, but there are serious issues that the game has to face and we have to get it right. We have to get that balance between censure and support absolutely right. I think cricket’s response to this will show the value of the game in the best light.