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Stokes ‘delighted’ to rejoin England squad

The all-rounder is set to link up with the squad in New Zealand next month.

Ben Stokes says he is “extremely delighted” to be back in the frame for England selection.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced earlier on Wednesday that the all-rounder is due to rejoin the team in February for the T20s in New Zealand.

Stokes was charged on Monday by the Crown Prosecution Service over an incident in Bristol in September last year but, having been unavailable since his initial arrest, he can now resume his international career.

The 26-year-old wrote on Twitter: “Representing my country is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever been lucky enough to do, walking out on to the field with the England shirt on is a privilege and a honour.

“I’m extremely delighted to be given this opportunity to do this again.

“Can’t wait to get back out on a pitch with the 3 Lions on my chest and feeling that pride that we all get and giving everything for the team.”

Ben Stokes File Photo

England face Australia in the second of five one-day internationals on Friday, but Stokes is not set to link back up with the side until the latter part of the subsequent Twenty20 Tri-Series involving both sides and New Zealand.

The delay in Stokes’ availability for the tri-series is believed to be in case there is a court appearance he would have to attend.

If all goes to plan, the 26-year-old could return to England colours against the Blacks Caps on February 13 and 18.

An ECB statement read: “Following a full board discussion, in which all considerations were taken into account, the ECB board has agreed that Ben Stokes should now be considered for England selection.

“Given the CPS decision to charge him and two others with affray, confirmation of his intention to contest the charge and the potential length of time to trial, the board agreed that it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period.

“The ECB fully respects the legal process and the player’s intention to defend himself against the charge.”

“England selectors, management and players have been informed and Ben Stokes is expected to join the squad in New Zealand for February’s T20 matches.”

England coach Trevor Bayliss said: “We’re happy he has been made available. We know why he wasn’t made available and we fully understand it…

“It is a complex situation. I wasn’t a part of the decision making. From the board’s point of view they’ve had long and detailed discussions about it and it is not an easy situation.

“Who knows how long this legal process will take. It could be six months or 12 months and that would certainly be over the top I think.”

Stokes has already played a handful of games in New Zealand, the country of his birth, after the ECB cleared him to join Canterbury Kings while they unsuccessfully contested the Ashes in his absence.

Alex Hales, who was present with Stokes on the night in question, has already returned to the England side after Avon and Somerset Police made it clear no charges would be brought against him.

Alex Hales File Photo

Both he and Stokes still face an internal investigation from the ECB’s independent cricket discipline commission but that will not begin until the legal process has run its course.

The charge of affray is made under the Public Order Act 1986 and effectively relates to fighting in public.

It carries a maximum penalty when tried summarily in the magistrates’ court of a fine or up to six months in prison. When tried on indictment – in the crown court – there is a maximum tariff of up to three years in prison.

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