Stokes to face trial over club fight

England cricketer Ben Stokes is to appear in court after being charged with affray.
England cricketer Ben Stokes is to appear in court after being charged with affray.

England cricketer Ben Stokes will face a Crown Court trial in the British city of Bristol over an altercation outside a nightclub.

The 26-year-old Durham all-rounder - who missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England - is accused of affray along with with two other men.

Stokes appeared at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Tuesday alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26.

It follows the 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.

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.

Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities.

The clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.

The full charge sheet shows that Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, is accused of affray on the September 25 at Queens Road in Bristol.

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".

The other two defendants face the same charge.

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.

In a statement after the hearing, the England and Wales Cricket Board said that having entered his plea Stokes would now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad.

"He departs tomorrow, Wednesday February 14, and will arrive on Friday February 16, 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.

"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 March 12."

Australian Associated Press