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Stokes confirms delay to England return

Court date delays the all-rounder’s planned comeback.

Ben Stokes has revealed he will not make his England return until after his first court appearance on February 13.

The all-rounder was charged with affray earlier this month, with the England and Wales Cricket Board subsequently deciding to call him up for the forthcoming Twenty20s in New Zealand.

Those plans hit the rocks almost immediately when it was confirmed the first hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court clashed with his planned comeback match in Wellington.

The 26-year-old could, theorectically, have started training with the squad before returning to England to attend court, but he will instead delay his departure.

He tweeted on Tuesday night: “As has been confirmed in the media a first hearing date at court has been set for 13th February. In the circumstances, I have decided that it would not be right to join my teammates until after attending court on the 13th.”

Stokes has not played for his country since September following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub, missing the 4-0 Ashes defeat.

He and batsman Alex Hales also face an internal investigation by an ECB disciplinary commission, but that will not commence until the legal process has been resolved.

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Head coach Trevor Bayliss said last week he and the team was looking forward to having Stokes back.

“I’m happy he’s been made available, the players and coaches are looking forward to seeing him,” Bayliss said.

“He’s a very popular member of the team and the squad. I’m sure they’ll welcome him back with open arms.”

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