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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Ben Stokes says Bristol 'best thing that could have happened to me'

England and Rajasthan Royals all-rounder comes clean on fight outside nightclub and how incident has changed him

Ben Stokes wishes he had not rushed back into the England side immediately after being cleared of affray. Reuters
Ben Stokes wishes he had not rushed back into the England side immediately after being cleared of affray. Reuters

Ben Stokes has claimed his fight near a Bristol nightclub and subsequent court case could be the best thing that has happened to him.

The England all-rounder was found not guilty of affray after denying the charge in August last year following a six-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Stokes was not selected by England as he awaited his trial and missed the 2017/18 Ashes series in Australia.

The 27-year-old, playing for Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals, told reporters the incident had changed him for good.

"It must be a subconscious thing that I was that close to my career ending and being thrown away just like that, maybe that is it," he told the Daily Mirror. "Thinking all this is going to be taken away from me.

"That might be the thing that has changed the way I do things. It sounds silly, but could Bristol have been the best thing that could have happened to me?

"Who knows, it could have been something else, but just in terms of my way of thinking.

"Nothing good happens after midnight. I still go out, but if you mean going 'out out'? I don't go 'out out' any more."

He told ESPNcricinfo: "I used to love going out and celebrating with the lads, but we can do that in the hotel and I don't miss it. I don't feel that urge any more. Once you make the transition to not doing it then you don't miss it."

After his trial Stokes was cleared to continue his international career by the England and Wales Cricket Board after pleading guilty to two charges of bringing the game into disrepute at a disciplinary hearing.

He received a back-dated eight-match ban and was fined £30,000 (around Dh143,000). While he awaited the police charges he missed five Tests and 11 limited-overs internationals.

Stokes said he returned to action with England too soon and should not have played in the third Test against India at Trent Bridge four days after the trial.

"The trial was a tough week and then everything after it, too," he said. "I'd say it was the toughest two weeks of my life.

"Walking out at Trent Bridge was absolutely awful. All I could hear were boos. Even if there weren't any. It was a dreadful, dreadful week."

"I carried that week into the game with me. I shouldn't have played."

He added: "No matter what happens in life with me now, the Bristol thing will always be there. It's something I'll always carry with me. It'll always be there. Always.

Updated: April 6, 2019 03:43 PM

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