Stokes to miss Lord’s Test against India as affray trial set for August 6


London:Ben Stokes, the England allrounder, will miss the Lord’s Test against India after his trial date for affray was set for August 6 at Bristol Crown Court.

Stokes, 26, who is currently on tour with England in New Zealand, appeared in court by video link this morning to confirm his identity and issue his not-guilty plea, as his trial preparation hearing got underway in Bristol.

He missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England following an alleged incident outside a nightclub in Bristol in the early hours of September 25, but returned to action during England’s one-day series against New Zealand early this month.

 Stokes stands accused of affray, alongside two other men, Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26. The trio appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court last month, where the clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.

Stokes is being represented by Mr Gordon Cole, Hale is being defended by Michael Hall and Ali by Giles Nelson. The prosecutor is Lucy Organ. Hale and Ali attended in person to confirm their not-guilty pleas.

The alleged incident took place outside Mbargo nightclub in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol, where England had earlier played a one-day international against West Indies.

It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present.

The dry nature of proceedings was alleviated briefly when Stokes responded to the formal introduction to His Honour Judge Blair QC, The Recorder of Bristol, by replying “Hi, Judge”. The video link also buffered as Stokes confirmed his “not guilty” plea leading to a brief moment of confusion.

While Stokes was given special dispensation to miss the Plea Trial Preparation Hearing, all three defendants were told they “must be here for your trial”. They were warned that, if they did not attend, a warrant would be issued for their arrest and they could forfeit their bail. They were also strongly advised to provide defence statements, setting out in detail their case, by May 22.

The trial is expected to last between five and seven days.

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