Allrounder Ben Stokes is set to be withdrawn from England’s ODI squad for the series in Australia, with batsman Dawid Malan his likely replacement.
Stokes is still waiting to hear if he will be charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for his role in an incident outside a club in Bristol, and although England had picked him in their ODI squad in the first week of December, the ECB said his selection was dependent on the outcome of the police investigation.
The incident – which also involved England batsman Alex Hales, who was not charged by police and therefore cleared for ODI selection – cost Stokes his placein the side for the last two ODIs against West Indies at the end of the English summer, and the ongoing Ashes in Australia. There has been no update on whether Stokes will be charged or not since.
Stokes was arrested in September on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm then released on bail. Avon and Somerset police completed their investigation into the incident in November and passed a file on to the CPS for advice on whether he should be charged. The police also confirmed that a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, which occurred outside the Mbargo nightclub in the Clifton area of Bristol in the early hours of the morning after England’s one-day international against West Indies on September 25.
Stokes returned to competitive action by playing for Canterbury in the domestic one-day and T20 competitions in New Zealand in December, for which he was granted a no-objection certificate by the ECB.
His involvement, or otherwise, with England has overshadowed much of the winter. Having been initially named in the Ashes squad a few days after his arrest, footage was released by a newspaper appearing to show Stokes throwing a series of punches at a man in the street. England subsequently said he would not be considered for selection until investigations were complete.
Both Stokes and Hales will have to face an ECB disciplinary hearing, whether or not the police press charges. The ECB’s chief executive, Tom Harrison, recently suggested it could take six months to a year to resolve the situation if Stokes is charged, although he added that the board would not prevent him from playing in competitions such as the IPL in the meantime, while he is out of the England set-up.
Without Stokes, England have faced difficulty balancing their Test side and relinquished the Ashes after falling 3-0 behind in Perth – although they did end their run of defeats in Australia by having the better of a drawn Boxing Day Test.
Malan has been one of England’s better-performing players during the Ashes, making his maiden Test hundred at the WACA. He has yet to be capped in 50-over cricket but impressed on T20 debut during the summer, when he was Man of the Match against South Africa. His call-up in place of Stokes is expected to be confirmed in the next 24 hours.
The ODI series begins in Melbourne on January 14, after which England and Australia will play a T20I tri-series involving New Zealand. England will then embark on their tour of New Zealand, taking in another five ODIs and two Tests.