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Will ‘punching clubber’ put Ben Stokes out of Ashes?

Ben Stokes is waiting to hear if he will be dropped from the Ashes squad and if he has badly injured his right hand after allegedly punching a man outside a nightclub in a row over a taxi.

The buccaneering all-rounder may also be sacked as England’s vice-captain after spending a night in the cells in Bristol after being arrested in the early hours of Monday.

The 26-year-old, who is set to marry the mother of his two children Clare Ratcliffe next month, was released but is still under investigation over the fracas.

The ECB refused to confirm that Stokes had an X-ray on his right hand following the fracas, but it is widely reported that he has and is waiting on the results today.

Alex Hales and Ben Stokes photographed together during the night out in Bristol on Sunday before Stokes allegedly punched someone

The incident involving Stokes happened outside the Mbargo night club in Bristol

The incident involving Stokes happened outside the Mbargo night club in Bristol

Stokes is due to marry fiancee Clare Ratcliffe, with whom he has two children, next month

Stokes is due to marry fiancee Clare Ratcliffe, with whom he has two children, next month

One witness said the fight started over a taxi in a lively part of Bristol teeming with university students celebrating the end of freshers’ week. 

The man, who asked not to be named, told the Mail: ‘There were two people fighting over a taxi which they both thought belonged to them. One thought he was Jack the lad. The person was in a bad way – I thought he might be dead.’

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

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

There are also questions over whether Stokes will be named in England’s Ashes squad to tour Australia this winter, which is announced today.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has said that Stokes ‘has been given strong warnings about his lifestyle’, adding: ‘I am sure a few incidents have been brushed under the carpet by the management’.

Fellow England star Alex Hales was out in Bristol with him after they beat the West Indies on Sunday, and returned to the city yesterday to help police with their enquiries – but is not believed to have been involved in the fight.  

Stokes was under police investigation last night after a man was injured in a brawl outside a nightclub.

The sportsman – who has been compared to Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff for his ability with both bat and ball – was arrested early on Monday after police were called to a clash outside Mbargo nightclub in Bristol.

The 26-year-old, who was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, had been enjoying a night out with teammates to celebrate England’s win over the West Indies on Sunday. 

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

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

The England all-rounder spent a night in the cells before being released without charge

Avon and Somerset Police tweeted asking for information relating to the incident

Avon and Somerset Police tweeted asking for information relating to the incident

A 27-year-old man suffered facial injuries and was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary. 

Stokes was yesterday released under investigation – the equivalent of being on police bail. 

STOKES’ RAPSHEET 

December 2011

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.

February 2013

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.

March 2014

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.

January 2015

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.

August 2017

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.

September 2017

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.

The police probe means he will miss today’s one-day international against the West Indies. 

Stokes is no stranger to trouble and has battled to repair his reputation in recent years. In 2011, he was cautioned after being arrested for obstructing police on a night out. In his autobiography, he recalled: ‘Spending a night in the cell was the worst time of my life. No question. If you are going to get arrested, you may as well have done something to have warranted it.’

In 2013, he was sent home from an England Lions tour in Australia, along with teammate Matt Coles, for persistent late-night drinking. 

England had to do without him at the 2014 World T20 after he punched a dressing-room locker in Barbados and broke his hand, and last year he appeared at Northallerton magistrates’ court in North Yorkshire, having been convicted of speeding for a fourth time.

Mbargo hosts an event called Sunday Shift with live music and a DJ. Most Sunday night events at the club end at 4am with last entry at 2am.

Nobody at the club, which was offering ‘happy hour drinks all night’ was available for comment yesterday.

Avon and Somerset Police said: ‘We were called to a disorder in Queens Road, Clifton, at around 2.35am on Monday.

‘A 27-year-old man was found to have suffered facial injuries and was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

‘A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and has since been released under investigation.’

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.  

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.

But they will have more urgent matters to deal with than an injury.

The ECB director of cricket confirmed the Ashes squad would be judged on 'form and fitness'

The ECB director of cricket confirmed the Ashes squad would be judged on ‘form and fitness’

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. 

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.

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.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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