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Cricket the ´sole focus´ for Stokes as he returns to England squad

14 August 2018 16:06

Ben Stokes is keen to make cricket his "sole focus" after being found not guilty of affray, with the all-rounder having been added to England's squad for the third Test against India.

A 12-person jury found Stokes and co-defendant Ryan Ali not guilty by unanimous verdict at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday.

Both men argued they had acted in self-defence during a fracas that occurred in the early morning of September 25 in Bristol, several hours after England's one-day international against West Indies in the city.

Stokes, who missed the second Test against India due to his trial, could now make an immediate international return after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed he had been added to Joe Root's squad for the third Test, starting at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

However, both Stokes and team-mate Alex Hales, who was also present for the incident but not charged by police, could yet face disciplinary action from the ECB.

An ECB statement read: "Now that the legal proceedings have concluded, the disciplinary process for Ben Stokes and Alex Hales can be scheduled by the Cricket Discipline Commission.

"Ben Stokes will now join the England squad for the third Specsavers Test against India, which starts at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

"Considerable detail has been heard in this week-long court case and, in due course, there will be a range of matters for the board to fully consider."

Shortly before Stokes' England recall was confirmed, his lawyer Paul Lunt read a lengthy statement underlining the 27-year-old's desire to move on with his career.

Lunt said: "In addition to the extreme stress placed on Ben and his family by the trial, the intervention that night has also cost Ben the England vice-captaincy, his place on an Ashes tour and his place in a number of other England matches.

"The past 11 months have served to highlight to Ben just how highly he values his position as an England representative, both in terms of the privilege that role entails and the responsibilities that accompany it.

"Now that the trial is over, Ben is keen to getting back to cricket being his sole focus."

The statement also contained criticism of how the incident was covered by sections of the media.

"[Tuesday's] verdict represents the end of an 11-month ordeal for Ben during which time he has had to maintain his silence at times when many on social media and in certain parts of the press have predetermined his guilt long before the trial began," Lunt added.

"Over the last week, the jury have been able to see and hear all of the evidence and not merely what the media have chosen to report.

"The evidence available to the jury included the full range of CCTV footage, which shows exactly what happened in September. The jury's decision that Ben is not guilty fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night."

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