Ben Stokes could soon be moved to England’s Ashes tour within 48 hours if Somerset police and Avon clears him over his actions in Bristol in the street brawl two months ago.He moved a step closer to for being added to the tour party in England by playing New Zealand state cricket and getting no-objection certificate last Friday by the ECB. The all-rounder came back in Christchurch, his home town and he is on the verge to sign a deal to represent Canterbury.
He is all set to play on Sunday for them in Ford Trophy, the domestic 50-over tournament in New Zealand where it will be the first match for him since he broke his hand in a street fight in Bristol which caused his arrest and suspension from the team England.
Stokes is in limbo still with regards to international cricket. There is still no update on whether charges have been made against him by the police but it is clear that 26 years old gave final statement last week to the detectives.
If ECB is assured to have a contingency plan and it is cleared, he may convene a board meeting in 48 hours followed by which its disciplinary commission could meet. It is likely to be thought that they would seek suspension which has been served and he could be there for the selection within two days after clearing it.
For ECB, one option is to backdate his ban when covering the matches missed by him already. Followed by his arrest, England played a Test and two one-dayers in Brisbane. Along with those and Test in Adelaide, it could represent the punishment from Stokes and ECB would be risking the criticism to become too lenient.
It is not clear when Avon Police and Somerset will decide whether to charge him, but the third Perth Test doesn’t start before December 14. Then it is another 8-day break before the beginning of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
The coaching staff of England seemed to be desperate for Stokes to rejoin the team but it is a very tough situation for ECB. If Stokes is charged with any disciplinary sanctions by the police, he would be put on hold in prejudicing a future trial. But it could be a few months before hearing of the case as well as temptation to let him to play cricket once more before he presents himself to the court.
By agreeing for New Zealand NOC, it opens the chances for him to meet his contracts in the IPL to be played next April along with not coinciding with any hearings. It means the team director Andrew Strauss, has a tough act of balancing and there are members of the board of ECB which don’t want Stokes anywhere around the tour of Ashes with the fear of negative publicity it could appeal.
But according to the coach staff, to deal with Australia, they need Stokes. He knows how to balance the team by batting and he is the only player who as aggression to combat the Australians.