How Ben Stokes' Ashes hopes unravelled


September 24: England win in Bristol

Ben Stokes cracks his way to 73 off 63 balls before Moeen Ali’s barnstorming century takes England to 369 for 9. Despite an onslaught from Chris Gayle it proves more than enough to earn an unbeatable 2-0 series lead. Afterwards, various England players – including Stokes – let their hair down in the city centre with the next match still three days away.

September 26: News of Stokes’ arrest emerges

What was meant to be the preview day to an end-of-season ODI suddenly changes when details of Stokes’ arrest in the early hours of September 25 emerge. An ECB statement said: “Stokes was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning, 25 September, following an incident in Bristol. He was held overnight and released under investigation – without charge – late on Monday and will not join the team in London.” Alex Hales was not arrested but returned to Bristol to help police with inquires.

September 27: Ashes squad announced

Twenty-four hours later, the Ashes squad is named as planned but in rather different circumstances to those that the ECB would have hoped. Stokes is included and retains the vice-captaincy while the police begin their investigation into the events in Bristol. It is also confirmed that Stokes suffered a “minor fracture” to his hand during the incident.

September 27: Video published, Stokes and Hales made unavailable

Shortly after England complete victory at The Oval, a video is published in The Sun of the Bristol incident which alleges to show Stokes throwing multiple punches. The ECB makes both Stokes and Hales – who is also alleged to be shown in the video – “unavailable for selection until further notice” although the pair remain on full pay while the incident is referred to the Cricket Discipline Commission chaired by Tim O’Gorman.

September 28: Police appeal for witnesses

Avon and Somerset police put out an appeal for two male witnesses to the events in Bristol to come forward to help with the investigation. “Our enquiries into the disorder in the Queens Road/Clifton Triangle area of Bristol in the early hours of Monday are continuing. We believe there are two specific witnesses, both men, with information about what happened in the moments prior to the disorder who are yet to come forward and we’d appeal for them to do so as soon as possible.”

October 6: Finn called into Ashes squad as Stokes replacement

Stokes’ chances of making the Ashes recede further as he is withdrawn from the Test squad while the police investigation continues. Steven Finn is drafted in instead. “With the Ashes just around the corner, it’s important to give the players, the coaching staff and supporters some clarity around a complex situation,” Andrew Strauss said. “This decision will help us in the weeks ahead and give every player and the whole England set-up the best chance to focus on the challenge ahead in Australia.” Stokes is retained in the ECB’s central contracts list for 2017-18.

October 7: Hales not expecting further action

Ian Kelcey, the Professional Cricketers’ Association lawyer who is assisting Alex Hales, tells the Observer that it is “reasonable to expect” that Hales won’t face further action over the incident having been interviewed by police and neither arrested or put on bail.

October 11: New Balance withdraw sponsorship

New Balance, the kit and clothing supplier, end their relationship with Stokes, which is estimated to be worth 200,000. On the same evening, Stokes makes his first public comment since the Bristol incident when he tweets an apology to Katie Price and her son Harvey following a video that emerged of Stokes which appeared to show him mocking Harvey.

October 12: Stokes’ agent issues statement

Neil Fairbrother, Stokes’ agent at ISM, puts out a statement which says that Stokes will give his full version of events in Bristol when the police investigation allows. There is also an acknowledgement of the impact there has been on his team-mates. “He is also concerned about the impact the widespread publicity has on everyone involved including the ECB, his team mates and the game of cricket itself which he loves.”

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