Ben Stokes, the ace England allrounder, is set to miss the second Test of the five-match series against India at Lord’s in August with the date for his trial having been set on Monday (March 12).
The trial of Stokes, Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali, who were all involved in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September, will begin on August 6. All three men have been charged with affray and all of them have pleaded not guilty.
The trial is expected to last up to a week, which means Stokes will not be available for the Lord’s Test, which begins on August 9. The first of five Tests starts in Birmingham on August 1.
Stokes made a return to international cricket during England’s One-Day International series in New Zealand. The allrounder is still in New Zealand, and he pleaded not guilty via video link to his charge of affray during a 15-minute hearing at Bristol Crown Court, in the southwest of England.
Stokes, 26, wearing a grey shirt, said “Hi judge” when he was introduced to Judge Peter Blair via the video link. The two other defendants, Ali, 28, and Hale, 26, appeared in person at the court.
“You must be here without fail for that trial,” the judge told Stokes, Ali and Hale. “You will remain on bail as before.”
Stokes missed the Ashes tour after being suspended from playing for England. Without him, the visiting side lost to Australia 4-0.
England declared Stokes available again after he pleaded not guilty at a Bristol Magistrates Court last month and he flew to New Zealand to join the squad after the court hearing.
Stokes, Ali and Hale are jointly charged with affray in Bristol on September 25 last year – several hours after England had played an ODI against Windies. It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present. Hales faced no charges.
The charge states that their “conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety”.
Stokes featured in all five of England’s ODIs in New Zealand, with the visiting side winning the series 3-2. England now have a two-Test series against New Zealand, which starts on March 22.
Stokes is due to play in the Indian Premier League after being sold for Rs. 12.5 crore (£1.4 million or $US 1.9 million) to Rajasthan Royals, fetching the highest price at the IPL auction for the second year in a row.