English all-rounder Ben Stokes appealed not guilty on Monday through a video link to a charge of a brawl over a nightclub incident that forced him out of the Ashes tour. The powerful all-rounder, currently with the England squad in New Zealand, looks set to miss the second Test against India at Lord’s, with his trial set for August 6.
Stokes and two other men appealed not guilty to the charge during a 15-minute hearing at Bristol Crown Court, in the southwest of England. He said “hi judge” when he was introduced to Judge Peter Blair via the video link. The two other defendants, Ryan Ali appeared in person at the court.
Judge Blair set a date of August 6 for the trial, which is expected to last between five and seven days. The second Test against India starts on August 9. Talking to Stokes, Ali, and Hales, the Judge said, “You must be here without fail for that trial. You will remain on bail as before.”
Ben missed the Ashes tour after being suspended from playing for England. Without him, the tourists lost to Australia 4-0.
England declared Stokes available again after he appealed not guilty at Bristol Magistrates Court last month and he flew to New Zealand to join the squad after the court hearing. Stokes, Ali, and Hales are jointly charged with affray in Bristol on September 25 last year – several hours after England had played an ODI against the West Indies.
Also read: England happy with Ben Stokes comeback
The charge states that their “conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety”. Stokes featured in all five of England’s ODIs in New Zealand, with the tourists winning the series 3-2.
England now has a two-match Test series against New Zealand, which starts on March 22. Ben is due to play in the Indian Premier League after being sold for $1.9 million to the Rajasthan Royals.