Ben Stokes and Alex Hales 'banned indefinitely' over street brawl
Poriborton Desk 6:38 pm, September 29, 2017
The England & Wales Cricket Board took the first step to banning vice-captain Ben Stokes from the Ashes tour when they suspended him and Alex Hales indefinitely on Thursday, reports The Telegraph.
Both remain on full pay pending the ECB’s own disciplinary process and the separate police investigation but as things stand Stokes will not be going to Australia after footage emerged of the street brawl that led to his arrest on the suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.
Stokes has been requested to attend a Bristol police station over the next week to again be interviewed by detectives. Hales will also be interviewed separately under caution. Neither has been charged. Sources have indicated police are now treating the incident as affray.
There are those at the ECB that would still like to see Stokes in Australia given his importance to the team but events spiralled out of the board’s control when the film of him knocking a man to the ground was published on Wednesday evening.
To add further embarrassment on Stokes and the ECB a video also emerged on Thursday afternoon of Stokes mimicking the 15 year-old disabled son of the television personality and model Katie Price.
It is inconceivable Stokes will remain as England’s Test vice-captain and he could face a lengthy ban from the ECB after Andrew Strauss, the team’s director of cricket, referred the case to an independent cricket disciplinary commission after viewing the footage of the fight.
The ECB did not use the word suspension in the statement it issued on Wednesday and with only one cricket match left in the season - today's ODI at the Ageas Bowl - there is hardly anything to ban them from anyway but it buys them time while they decide their next move and wait for developments with the police investigation.
The footage of the brawl stunned the board and accelerated the disciplinary process following talks between the most senior members of the ECB hierarchy on Wednesday morning including Strauss, Tom Harrison, the chief executive, and chairman Colin Graves.
The England team leave for Australia on Oct 28 and rules concerning nights out will be tightened. Extra security will be provided for the players and while a formal curfew is unlikely there will be stricter guidelines around where they can go and who they inform of their whereabouts.
Stokes is a vital member of the team, irreplaceable on the field both for the balance he gives the side as an allrounder and as a leader others rally behind.
But there can be no question he has brought the game into disrepute on two levels. Aside from the negative headlines and criminal investigation, on a basic cricketing level he has badly damaged the team’s preparations for an Ashes series by breaking the little finger in his right hand during a street fight at 2.35 in the morning and is likely to will miss the three warm-up matches before the first Test.
It is understood that Stokes is likely to be given anger management treatment and lifestyle advice after England head coach, Trevor Bayliss, labelled the players “very unprofessional” for being out until the early hours of the morning halfway through a one-day series against West Indies.
Later Bayliss, speaking after the win over West Indies at the Oval on Wednesday, and before the emergence of video footage of the fight, described the fallout from Stokes incident as one of the greatest challenges of his career. 'It's right up there – probably in the top two I would have thought,” he said. 'It's very difficult for everyone involved, something that obviously we didn't want to go through and hope that we don't go through again.”
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