ENGLAND cricketer Ben Stokes will face a crown court trial over an altercation outside a nightclub.
The 26-year-old Durham all-rounder (pictured above) — who missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England — is accused of affray along with with two other men.
Stokes appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26.
It follows the altercation in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of September 25 last year — several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city.
It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present.
Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities.
The clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.
The full charge sheet shows that Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, is accused of affray on the September 25 at Queens Road in Bristol.
He is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another.
The charge states that his ‘conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety’.
The other two defendants face the same charge.
Affray is an either way offence meaning it can be tried at the magistrates court or the crown court. But all three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at the crown court.
District Judge Simon Cooper told the three defendants: ‘I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12. You will be on bail.’
Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.
■ England’s Twenty20 travails continued as a third successive defeat, this time by New Zealand, left their hopes of reaching the tri-series final hanging by a thread.
After back-to-back beatings at the hands of Australia, England hoped for better luck in Wellington but fell 12 runs short of the home side’s 196 for five, leaving qualification out of their hands.