England waste no time in recalling Ben Stokes to squad
England welcome back player cleared of affray after man suffers fractured eye socket
England cricketer Ben Stokes leaves Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday. Photograph: Getty Images
England cricketer Ben Stokes has been recalled to England’s Test squad just hours after he was cleared of affray.
The 27-year-old could regain his place for Saturday’s third Test at Trent Bridge after missing the win at Lord’s because of his trial.
Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced that an independent Cricket Discipline Commission investigation into Mr Stokes and his teammate Alex Hales would resume.
After being acquitted, Stokes thanked his wife, family, friends and teammates for their “unerring” support during “an 11-month ordeal”.
“In addition to the extreme stress placed on Ben and his family by the trial, his intervention that night has already cost Ben the England vice-captaincy, his place on an Ashes tour and his place on a number of other England matches,” Stokes’s solicitor Paul Lunt said.
“The past 11 months have served to highlight to Ben just how highly he values his position as an England representative, both in terms of the privilege that role entails and the responsibilities that accompany it.
“Now that the trial is over, Ben is keen to get back to cricket being his sole focus.”
A jury at Bristol Crown Court took two hours to clear Stokes of affray and as the verdict was returned he closed his eyes with relief and then looked up while his wife Clare cried.
Before leaving court Stokes shook the hand of co-accused Ryan Ali, who had also been acquitted.
The Nottinghamshire batsman, who was interviewed under caution but never arrested in relation to the incident, was seen on the CCTV stamping and kicking Mr Ali in the head as he lay on the floor. Witnesses described seeing a group of men acting like “football hooligans” and dialled 999. Mr Ali, an emergency services worker, suffered a fractured eye socket while Mr Hale, a former soldier, was left with concussion.