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Ben Stokes pleads not guilty to affray and will fly to New Zealand

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England cricketer Ben Stokes will face a crown court trial after pleading not guilty to a charge of affray following the incident outside a Bristol nightclub that cost him his place in the Ashes squad. 

Appearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court today alongside the two other men involved in the 25 September incident, Stokes only spoke to confirm his name, age, address, nationality and not guilty plea, The Times reports.  

Stokes and his co-defendents – Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26 – all pleaded not guilty on the grounds of “self-defence and defence of another”, the Times said.

After the court appearance, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) issued a statement saying that the all-rounder would fly to New Zealand tomorrow to join the England squad for the Twenty20 Tri-Series. Stokes missed the Ashes series defeat in Australia due to his suspension from international cricket.

The ECB statement said: “Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad. 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 Stokes will not be required to return to the UK for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday, 12 March.

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