Ben Stokes has pleaded not guilty to affray and will travel to New Zealand on Wednesday to join up with the England squad.
The England all-rounder appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning, where the case was sent to Bristol Crown Court on March 12.
It is understood that representatives for Stokes have secured permission for the player not to be present at the first hearing and he will fly out to New Zealand on Wednesday to join the England touring party.
Ben Stokes has pleaded not guilty to affray and will fly out to New Zealand on Wednesday
All-rounder Stokes is not currently in contention for the ongoing International T20 Tri-Series
Stokes heard on Tuesday that his case has been sent to Bristol Crown Court for March 12
Stokes appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, who pleaded not guilty to the same offence.
It follows an altercation in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of September 25 last year – several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city.
Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities.
The full charge sheet shows that Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, is accused of affray on the September 25 at Queens Road in Bristol.
Stokes missed England’s Ashes series – his side were defeated 4-0 by Australia
The ECB said Stokes will be ready for training with the England side from February 16
He is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another.
The charge states that his ‘conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety’.
Affray is an either way offence meaning it can be tried at the magistrates court or the crown court. But all three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at the crown court.
District Judge Simon Cooper told the three defendants: ‘I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12. You will be on bail.’
Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0. They are currently in the middle of a tri-nation T20 series with New Zealand and Australia.
Their next fixture is against New Zealand on Sunday. At the end of the tournament they will play five one-day matches against New Zealand before a two-Test series starting on March 22. The final Test starts on March 29.
England lost to New Zealand by 12 runs on Tuesday – they play them again on Sunday
England play five ODI matches and two Tests against New Zealand after the T20 series
An ECB spokesperson said: ‘Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates’ Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad.
‘He departs tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team mates in Hamilton.
‘Any decision to include him in upcoming matches will be made by Head Coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing International T20 Tri-Series.
‘ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments.
‘It has been confirmed that he will not be required to return to the UK for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday 12 March.’
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