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16th-Aug-2018

Ben Stokes named in England squad for third Test against India

By Agency

Ben Stokes has been added to England's squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge after a jury at Bristol Crown Court took less than three hours to find him not guilty of affray.
He and Alex Hales may yet be charged with bringing the game into disrepute by an independent cricket panel for their part in the brawl last September.
CCTV footage showed Stokes knocking out Ryan Ali in the street, while it emerged during the seven-day trial that he had also knocked unconscious Ali's friend Ryan Hale. It was also revealed that the Crown Prosecution Service had been unsuccessful in a late attempt to charge Stokes with actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years - seven more than affray.
Stokes maintained throughout that he had acted in self-defence, and his solicitor said he was now 'keen to get back to cricket being his sole focus'.
Until the cricket discipline commission gathers evidence, however - a process which may not be complete until the autumn - Stokes is available for selection, starting on Saturday.
The decision to add him to England's 13-man squad was taken after high-level internal discussions involving ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, national selector Ed Smith, coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Joe Root.
It will now be for Bayliss and Root to decide whether to hand their star all-rounder an instant return to the Test team and, if so, who to leave out from the side who convincingly won the second Test at Lord's.
An ECB statement said: 'Now the legal proceedings have concluded, the disciplinary process for Ben Stokes and Alex Hales can be scheduled by the cricket discipline commission. Considerable detail has been heard in this case and there will be a range of matters to consider.'
There is little chance the commission, headed by ex-Derbyshire batsman Tim O'Gorman, will be in a position to rule on the future of Stokes and Hales - who did not face a police charge - before the fifth Test, which is scheduled to end on September 11.
That would leave open the possibility of Stokes being banned from the tour of Sri Lanka - despite already having missed last winter's Ashes.
Stokes showed little emotion as the jury acquitted him, but his wife, Clare, and his agent, the former England batsman Neil Fairbrother, broke down in tears. Ali was also cleared of affray, and the two men shook hands.
Speaking outside court, Stokes's solicitor Paul Lunt spoke of an '11-month ordeal for Ben, during which he's had to maintain his silence at times when many… pre-determined his guilt'.
He added,  "The jury's decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened. Ben was minding his own business when he came across two men being subjected to what Ben identified as serious homophobic abuse."
"It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself or the others present."