All-rounder Ben Stokes will now be considered for England selection despite being charged with affray, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Wednesday. Stokes was suspended from international duty by the ECB following his involvement in an incident outside a nightclub in September that reportedly left a man with a fractured eye socket. As a result, Stokes missed the whole of England's 4-0 Ashes series defeat in Australia. The England and Wales Cricket Board issued the following statement.
"Following a full Board discussion, in which all considerations were taken into account, the ECB Board has agreed that Ben Stokes should now be considered for England selection.
"Given the CPS decision to charge him and two others with affray, confirmation of his intention to contest the charge and the potential length of time to trial, the Board agreed that it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period.
"To date, Stokes has been unavailable for selection throughout the Police and CPS process around the incident in Bristol in September, a period which has included One-Day Internationals against West Indies, the Ashes tour and the start of the ODI series against Australia.
"ECB fully respects the legal process and the player's intention to defend himself against the charge.
"England Selectors, management and players have been informed and Ben Stokes is expected to join the squad in New Zealand for February's T20 matches.
"ECB confirmed in December that the independent Cricket Discipline Commission [CDC] would stay the internal disciplinary process for both Alex Hales and Ben Stokes until the conclusion of court proceedings relating to the incident."
Stokes was charged by prosecutors on Monday but the ECB said that given his intention to contest the charge and the potential length of time to trial, "it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period".
(With AFP Inputs)