Ben Stokes, who was charged with affray following an incident in the city of Bristol last September, pleaded not guilty on grounds of self-defense. The 26-year old England cricketer arrived at Bristol Magistrates’ Court in a silver people-carrier with blacked out windows.
The case will now be heard by the Bristol Crown Court on March 12. This means that Stokes, who has missed the Ashes after being suspended by the England Cricket Board due to the brawl incident, would be able to play in the ODI series against New Zealand.
Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, who were also involved in the incident, have pleaded not guilty as well. All the three accused have been released on unconditional bail by District Judge Simon Cooper. It is alleged that the fighting incident outside the nightclub had left a 27-year-old man with a fractured eye socket.
Stokes had earlier said in a Facebook statement that he was keen to have the opportunity to clear his name from the case. “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 verymuch on cricket.”