Ben Stokes is now available for selection to the England national team, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Wednesday (January 17).
Following a meeting of their board, the ECB said that it would no longer be “fair, reasonable or proportionate” for Stokes to be kept away from international cricket.
Stokes responded soon after the announcement, tweeting, “Representing my country is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever been lucky enough to do, walking out on to the field with the England shirt on is a privilege and a honour.
“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 3 Lions on my chest and feeling that pride that we all get and giving everything for the team.”
On Monday, it was announced that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had charged Stokes with affray after the investigation into his role in the fracas outside a Bristol nightclub in September was completed.
The ECB, who had already selected Stokes for the upcoming tour of New Zealand, had said at the time of selection that they would meet within the next 48 hours of the CPS decision to discuss Stokes’s immediate future. On Wednesday , they announced that the board had “agreed that Ben Stokes should now be considered for England selection”.
In a statement, the ECB elaborated, “Given the CPS decision to charge him and two others with affray, confirmation of his intention to contest the charge and the potential length of time to trial, the Board agreed that it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period.”
Since the incident, Stokes has missed part of a One-Day International series against Windies at home, the entire Ashes series, which England lost 4-0, and the ongoing ODI series against Australia.
“ECB fully respects the legal process and the player’s intention to defend himself against the charge,” said the statement, adding that the independent Cricket Discipline Commission of the board would stay the internal disciplinary process for both Stokes and Alex Hales, who was with the allrounder at the time of the incident, “until the conclusion of court proceedings relating to the incident”.
Interestingly, the ECB had suspended banned Stokes before he had been officially charged and have now made him available for England duty just days after prosecutors brought charges against him .
Mike Atherton labelled the ECB’s stance “illogical”.
Nasser Hussain, however, stood behind the board, saying on Sky Sports, “It was an incredibly difficult decision to make for the ECB and I don’t envy them – they were damned if they do (select Stokes) and damned if they didn’t. It seems odd in certain ways that when he wasn’t charged with anything he was not allowed to play for England and now that he has been charged with affray they are letting him become available for selection.”
The England team management has since been informed that Stokes would be joining the squad for the tour of New Zealand, starting with the Twenty20 Internationals in February.