Stokes heads to New Zealand after not-guilty plea


Ben Stokes is set to join up with his team-mates in New Zealand and could resume his England career in the coming weeks after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray over an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September. His case was referred to Bristol Crown Court, with a first hearing set for March 12.
Although Stokes will not currently be considered for the T20 triangular series involving New Zealand and Australia, he is set to depart the UK on Wednesday. The ECB released a statement saying that he would link up with the team in Hamilton, where England play New Zealand on Sunday.
“Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates’ Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad,” an ECB spokesperson said. “He departs tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team-mates in Hamilton.
“Any decision to include him in upcoming matches will be made by head coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing international T20 tri-series.”ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments.
It has been confirmed that he will not be required to return to the UK for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday 12 March.”