All-rounder Ben Stokes’s chances of spearheading England’s bid for Ashes glory this winter have receded after cricket bosses suspended him and one-day team-mate Alex Hales indefinitely.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have confirmed the pair will not be considered for selection until further notice following the incident outside a Bristol nightclub during the early hours of Monday morning which resulted in Stokes’s arrest.
Stokes was held overnight on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm but was released without charge pending further investigation. Video footage of a brawl, seemingly involving Stokes with Hales present, has since emerged.
“Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be considered for selection for England international matches until further notice,” read an ECB statement.
“Each remains on full pay pending further ECB investigation and the ongoing police investigation into an incident in Bristol in the early hours of Monday 25 September.
“Andrew Strauss, Director of England Cricket, will today refer the internal disciplinary procedure for these two players to the Cricket Discipline Commission, chaired by Tim O’Gorman.
“These decisions, fully supported by ECB chairman Colin Graves, were made following the release of footage viewed by ECB for the first time on Wednesday night.”
Despite his arrest, Test vice-captain Stokes was named in England’s 16-man touring party for the five-Test series in Australia, which begins in Brisbane on 23 November, on Wednesday. England’s first tour match Down Under, however, starts on 4 November.
As it stands, the 26-year-old, who sustained a broken finger during the incident, will be unavailable for the Ashes unless he is cleared to play by the ECB following its disciplinary inquiry and the criminal investigation, which could take several months, permits.
Hales, who voluntarily returned to Bristol on Tuesday to assist police with their enquiries, was omitted from England’s Ashes squad and will also miss today’s concluding international clash of the summer against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl.
England lead the one-day series 3-0 following Wednesday’s six-run victory on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method of calculation at the Kia Oval. Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan has been called into the squad as cover.