Ben Stokes will miss the second Test against India at Lord’s this summer as it clashes with his next appearance in court — although he still hopes to play in the match that precedes it.
Stokes, 26, pleaded not guilty to affray on Monday via video-link from New Zealand, where he is on international duty with England, as his case came before a judge at Bristol Crown Court.
The court heard that a trial will be held on August 6 and is expected to last five to seven days. That will prevent him from playing in the second of five Tests against Virat Kohli’s India side, which starts on August 9.
Ben Stokes will miss the second Test against India as it clashes with his court appearance
The England all-rounder is still hoping to play in the Test match which precedes it
The first Test at Edgbaston — arguably the marquee international of the English summer against the world’s No 1 ranked team — is not scheduled to finish until the evening of August 5. That could see Stokes leave the field at 6pm in Birmingham and drive 90 miles to Bristol to appear in court the next morning.
Although the England all-rounder will be desperate to play after missing the entire Ashes series this winter because of an ECB selection suspension, he will take advice from his legal team. An ECB spokesman insisted he would ‘fully respect the legal process’.
The court case is the result of an alleged clash in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol early on September 25 last year. Stokes, tieless and wearing a grey, collared shirt on Monday to address the recorder, Peter Blair QC, is accused of affray, as are Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26.
All three defendants were told to be present for their trial, and strongly advised to provide defence statements, setting out their case in detail, by May 22.
The 26-year-old’s trial will be held on August 6 and is expected to last five to seven days
By then, Christchurch-born Stokes will have returned to Test cricket in the two-match series in his native New Zealand. Having been selected in every inter-national squad since his arrest, he became available for England’s 3-2 one-day series win, only after being charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Meanwhile, the process by which England players will be selected in future has been overhauled. James Whitaker is to step down as national selector later this month after five years in the role and 10 years on the panel.
Although Andrew Strauss, the England team director, insisted in a statement that the decision was not a reaction to the 4-0 Ashes reverse, changes tend to follow tours to Australia.
Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower, the coaches in 2006-07 and 2013-14 respectively, were gone by the following summers.
Stokes pleaded not guilty to affray on Monday via a video-link from New Zealand
Sportsmail revealed that Strauss was ready to disband the selection panel at the end of the 2016 summer. Instead, they were given a stay of execution but appointments were made to modernise the process.
Mo Bobat was a key appointment. As the ECB’s player identification manager he has to co-ordinate the new scouting network from England Under 19 level to the full Test, one-day and Twenty20 teams.
The panel itself will be streamlined from four men to a new national selector, an independent selector and Trevor Bayliss as England coach. There will also be greater input from the ECB’s specialists in batting, fast-bowling, spin and wicketkeeping — Graham Thorpe, Kevin Shine, Peter Such and Bruce French. The England Lions head coach, a position currently held by Flower, will also be consulted.
The national selector’s job will be advertised this week, with current selectors Angus Fraser and Mick Newell staying on until the position is filled.
James Whitaker is to step down as national selector later this month after five years in the role
They will be free to apply for the new roles but would need to relinquish director-of-cricket posts at Middlesex and Nottinghamshire respectively. The ECB want independent selectors as, previously, both were left open to accusations of conflicts of interest.
‘The new approach will allow us to see more players throughout the county game, more often, and simplify the selection process. We will have a greater body of information, deeper insight into the talent we can pick and a better understanding of who to help develop across the red-ball and white-ball games,’ said Strauss.
‘A formalised scouting network will help us to be more aware of players’ strengths and, as they will be seen more often by more people, they will have a greater opportunity to impress.’
Preparations for change were made lower down the chain last summer when ex-internationals Geoff Arnold, Jack Birkenshaw, Bob Cottam, John Emburey and Mike Hendrick were drafted in as talent scouts.
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