LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – England cricketer Ben Stokes faces a Crown Court trial after indicating a plea of not guilty to a charge of affray after an incident outside a nightclub in the city of Bristol last September.
The 26-year-old Durham all-rounder appeared with two other defendants at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the magistrates’ court said all three were sent to Bristol Crown Court on unconditional bail for a hearing to start on March 12.
Stokes, who has not played for England since the incident cost him a place on the Ashes tour of Australia, was cleared for selection by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month.
His court appearance came on the day England played New Zealand in a T20 match in Wellington, their first game in a tri-series also involving Australia.
Stokes, 28-year-old Ryan Ali and 26-year-old Ryan Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of birth, addresses and nationalities.
British media reports said all three had indicated they were acting in self-defence or defence of another.
Stokes, vice-captain of the England test team and one of world cricket’s most destructive batsmen, was arrested on Sept. 26 after scoring 73 in a 124-run one day international win over West Indies in the south-western city. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)