LONDON – Ben Stokes will now be considered for England selection again despite being charged with affray, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced Wednesday.
Stokes was suspended from international duty by the ECB following his involvement in an incident outside a nightclub in September that reportedly left a man with a fractured eye socket.
As a result, the Durham all-rounder missed the whole of England's 4-0 Ashes series defeat in Australia.
Although England are currently involved in a one-day international series in Australia, the ECB said Stokes was expected to return to England duty for February's Twenty20 matches in his native New Zealand.
Wednesday's announcement leaves the ECB in a potentially awkward position given they banned Stokes when he had not been charged with any offence and have now made him available for England duty just two days after prosecutors brought charges against him on Monday.
But following a full board discussion, in which they said “all considerations were taken into account”, the ECB said it had been agreed that Stokes “should now be considered for England selection”.
The ECB said Stokes' intention to contest the charge had been crucial in its decision to allow him to resume an England career that currently comprises 39 Tests, 62 one-day internationals and 21 Twenty20 internationals.
“Given the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) 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,” the ECB said.
The board said it “fully respects the legal process and the player’s intention to defend himself against the charge”.