English cricket is reeling after Ben Stokes was arrested early on Monday following a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub that left a 27-year-old man in hospital with facial injuries.
The England all-rounder spent a night in the cells before being released without charge. But police investigations are ongoing and Stokes was ruled out of Wednesday’s fourth one-day international against West Indies at The Oval, which begins shortly after the announcement of the Ashes squad.
There is every chance England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss will now strip Stokes, who was photographed on the night out, of the vice-captaincy before England leave for Australia next month.
Alex Hales and Ben Stokes photographed together during the night out in Bristol on Sunday
England cricket’s Test vice-captain Stokes, pictured on a night out in Manchester last week, was arrested after an incident in Bristol in the early hours of Monday night
Stokes, who was out in Manchester city centre last week after a one day match vs the Windies, was involved in a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub that left a man in hospital with facial injuries
The England all-rounder spent a night in the cells before being released without charge
However, he was ruled out of Wednesday’s fourth ODI against West Indies at The Oval
Hales has also been omitted from England’s squad for Wednesday’s ODI at The Oval
Opening batsman Alex Hales, who was with Stokes, will also miss Wednesday’s game after returning to Bristol to help police with their enquiries. It is understood he was not directly involved when the incident took place at 2.35am on Monday in the Queens Road area of the city.
Details remain sketchy of what happened after a group of players went out to celebrate England’s win in the third one-day international on Sunday at Bristol’s Nevil Road.
But, with no team curfew in place, it is understood Stokes and Hales became separated from five team-mates after visiting Bristol’s late-night Mbargo bar before the incident which led to Stokes’ arrest. One report suggested the man who ended up in hospital had a verbal altercation with Stokes which became physical.
The ECB refused to confirm that Stokes – referred to as a ’26-year-old man’ in a police statement – had an X-ray on his hand following the fracas. But they will have more urgent matters to deal with than an injury.
Stokes has a history of disciplinary issues and has thrust the sport into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons on the eve of the Ashes squad announcement.
The incident involving Stokes happened outside the Mbargo night club in Bristol
Avon and Somerset Police tweeted asking for information relating to the incident
Stokes spends the night in a cell after he was arrested for obstructing a police officer. Escapes with a caution and a heavy fine from his county, Durham.
Ignores a curfew – and previous written warnings from the ECB for ‘excessive behaviour’ – on tour with the Lions in Australia and goes out drinking with room-mate Matt Coles until 5.30am. The pair apologise but are sent home from the tour.
Fractures his hand punching a locker in the dressing room after he was dismissed for a golden duck against the West Indies. The injury forces him to miss the Twenty20 World Cup.
Receives a verbal warning for staying out after hours following a team function in Bloemfontein, 24 hours after arriving as a one-day specialist on England Lions’ tour of South Africa.
Returns to team hotel from night out in Manchester at 3am, hours before the second day of the fourth Test against South Africa. Also penalised for swearing against the West Indies, leaving him one demerit point away from missing an Ashes Test following charges against Bangladesh and India in 2016.
Arrested on suspicion of assault and held overnight after a night out in Bristol. Released without charge but left out of Wednesday’s England team to face West Indies.
Asked whether Stokes’ place in the squad would now be under threat, Strauss said he had instructed the selectors to pick players ‘based on form and fitness, as they normally would’.
Sportsmail can also reveal that Stokes had already been involved in a late-night escapade during a Test match last month.
The player had a night out in Manchester and only returned to the England team hotel at about 3am after the first day’s play in the Old Trafford Test against South Africa on August 4. Stokes was seen with friends in Crazy Pedro’s, a well-known, late-night drinking haunt, but England personnel were informed that it was around midnight when he went back to the Lowry Hotel.
Stokes received a dressing-down from ISM, the company that manages his affairs, who warned him not to end up on the back pages of newspapers as Wayne Rooney has recently.
There was no suggestion Stokes had been drinking heavily that night in Manchester.
But, asked during a recent interview whether he still drinks alcohol during Test matches he replied: ‘Yeah, why not? We’re grown men, go out for dinner, have a few pints. I’m 26, not 14. I don’t have to drink Diet Cokes with dinner.’
A statement from Avon and Somerset police, who have issued an appeal for witnesses, said: ‘A 27-year-old man suffered facial injuries and was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.
‘A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.’
Serious cases of actual bodily harm can lead to prison sentences of between one and three years, although if the case ever goes to court it is believed Stokes will plead self-defence.
Stokes is due to marry fiancee Clare Ratcliffe, with whom he has two children, next month
Andrew Strauss reads out an ECB statement confirming that Stokes had been arrested
The ECB director of cricket confirmed the Ashes squad would be judged on ‘form and fitness’
The chances of a court hearing getting in the way of Stokes’s participation, who is yet to release a statement about Monday morning’s events, in the Ashes are slim. That scenario would involve the Crown Prosecution Service pressing charges before the team fly to Australia on October 28, which would be an unusually quick turnaround for an ongoing investigation.
The most likely scenario, if the CPS decide to take the case further, would be for a hearing early next year.
But England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan admitted the episode had been a distraction as his team look to take a 3-0 lead in their 50-over series against West Indies.
Hales is thought to feel aggrieved to be missing a game when he is not accused of being involved in the incident.
Jason Roy will return to the top of the order to partner Jonny Bairstow, while Sam Billings has been drafted into the squad.
England ODI captain Eoin Morgan admitted that the incident had been a ‘distraction’ this week
*Additional reporting by Sportsmail’s Mike Keegan