LONDON: Ben Stokes will Wednesday head to an internal English cricket hearing into a brawl outside a nightclub last year that cost him his Ashes place with a glowing reference from England coach Trevor Bayliss.
Star all-rounder Stokes was acquitted of a criminal charge of affray at a trial in August following the incident in Bristol, southwest England, in September 2017.
But he has still been charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Both Stokes and England teammate Alex Hales, who was with him during the altercation but did not face a criminal charge, are due to appear before a cricket discipline commission (CDC) hearing starting on Wednesday.
The CDC, which is expected to announce its decisions on Friday, is responsible for all aspects of discipline covered by the ECB’s rules, regulations and directives.
After the fracas in Bristol, Stokes was stripped of his position as vice-captain of an England Test side skippered by close friend Joe Root and also missed England’s Ashes tour of Australia.
The CDC could decide Stokes has been punished enough already and Bayliss hopes he will not miss any more cricket.
“I hope he’s available for our next game,” said the Australian, who does not want Stokes banned from any part of England’s tour of the West Indies starting next month.
Pace-bowling all-rounder Stokes scored 187 runs at 31.16 and took five wickets at an average of 20.40 during England’s recent 3-0 Test series win in Sri Lanka while also holding several slip catches in a series dominated by spin bowlers.
The 27-year-old’s ability to make runs when they were most needed by his side while generating pace from often docile pitches enabled him to make telling contributions.
Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha said the Durham all-rounder was the difference between the two sides.
His England counterpart, Bayliss, said Stokes was a changed man since the events that led to his appearance in court.
“I think he’s certainly learnt a lesson since that time,” he said.
“The way he’s conducted himself since he has come back into the fold has been exemplary,” Bayliss added.