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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Ben Stokes called up to England's third Test squad after being found not guilty of affray

All-rounder and fellow defendant Ryan Ali both acquitted for part in fight outside nightclub

Ben Stokes and his wife Clare arrive at Bristol crown court. AFP
Ben Stokes and his wife Clare arrive at Bristol crown court. AFP

Ben Stokes is in line to play in the third Test against India after being recalled to the squad following his acquittal on a charge of affray on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old New Zealand-born all-rounder, who took six wickets in the first Test victory over India but missed the second Test due to the trial, was found not guilty by a unanimous decision by the jury in Bristol after less than three hours of deliberations.

"Ben Stokes will now join the England squad for the 3rd Test against India, which starts at Trent Bridge on Saturday," the statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) read.

A jury on Tuesday unanimously decided in less than three hours that Stokes was not guilty as was his co-defendant Ryan Ali, who was knocked unconscious in the brawl.

However, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales - who was with him when the brawl occurred - is likely to face a charge of disrepute by the ECB, which will be heard by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) chaired by Tim O'Gorman, a former Derbyshire batsman and qualified solicitor.

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“Now that the legal proceedings have concluded, the disciplinary process for Ben Stokes and Alex Hales can be scheduled by the CDC," the ECB said. “Considerable detail has been heard in this week-long court case and, in due course, there will be a range of matters for the Board to fully consider."

Stokes' lawyer Paul Lunt said in a statement after the verdict that the case had cost Stokes the England vice-captaincy, his place on an Ashes tour to Australia last winter and in other England matches.

"The past 11 months have served to highlight to Ben just how highly he values his position as an England representative, both in terms of the privilege that role entails and the responsibilities that accompany it," Lunt said.

"Now that the trial is over, Ben is keen to get back to cricket being his sole focus," he added.

Stokes' England teammate Jonny Bairstow, one of several players who were out with Stokes earlier that evening, said the latter's acquittal was great news on both a personal and sporting front.

"I am really happy," he told Sky Sports. "It has been a long 10 months for him and his family.

"Hopefully we will see him back in an England shirt soon as we saw the impact he had at Edgbaston," added Bairstow, referring to Stokes taking four wickets in India's second innings including the crucial one of Virat Kohli for 51 as England won a tight first Test by 31 runs.