England cricketer Ben Stokes to stand trial over altercation

England cricketer Ben Stokes arrives at Bristol Magistrates Court in Bristol, Britain, on Feb.13, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 February 2018
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England cricketer Ben Stokes to stand trial over altercation

BRISTOL: Ben Stokes will join the England squad in New Zealand after the star all-rounder pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of affray over a nightclub incident that forced him out of the Ashes tour.
The 26-year-old all-rounder appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court in the southwest of England along with two other men and will next appear at Bristol Crown Court on March 12.
The England and Wales Cricket Board issued a statement shortly after Stokes’s first court appearance confirming his travel plans but he is not expected to make an immediate return after nearly five months out of the side.
“Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates’ Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad,” said an ECB spokesman.
“He departs tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team-mates in Hamilton.”
The statement said any decision to include him in upcoming matches would be made by the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing International Twenty20 tri-series against New Zealand and Australia.
England start a five-match one-day international series against New Zealand on February 25, followed by two Tests.
“(The) ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments,” added the statement.
Stokes, who missed England’s 4-0 Ashes drubbing after being suspended from playing for England, appeared at the court in Bristol along with Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale.
Tuesday’s court appearance follows the altercation 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. Hales faced no charges.
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.
Stokes is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence toward 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.
All three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at a crown court, with the offense carrying a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison.
“I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12,” said District Judge Simon Cooper. “You will be on bail.”
In a statement posted on Twitter last month after he was charged, Stokes said he was “keen to have an opportunity to clear my name.”
While England were in Australia, Stokes played a few games for Canterbury Kings during a month-long spell in New Zealand before returning home to England.
He is due to play in the Indian Premier League after being sold for £1.4 million ($1.9 million) to the Rajasthan Royals.


Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

Updated 23 January 2019
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Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

  • Can the mighty minnows continue impressive run in the UAE?
  • Or will the big guns start to fire in quarterfinals?

LONDON: Asia’s biggest sporting spectacle has reached its quarterfinal stage — and it’s time for teams to find their A-game. While there are few surprises in the last-eight lineup, the form of some of the big-name sides has been less than impressive. Here we deliver our verdict on the second round.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Saudi Arabia’s attack

The Green Falcons started the tournament at top speed. They came in as one of the cup favorites and in their opening two matches illustrated why. A 4-0 thrashing of North Korea was backed up with a relatively simple 2-0 victory over Lebanon. Understandably, that raised hopes that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men could go all the way in the UAE. Alas, it was not to be as a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their last group clash left them with a tricky tie against Japan. For all their efforts Saudi Arabia were unable to find the back of the net, the lack of firepower upfront costing Pizzi’s team yet again.



BIGGEST SHOCK — South Korean sloppiness

Boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-Min, South Korea were rightly declared the pre-tournament favorites. They had firepower up front, intelligence and creativity in midfield, and experience at the back. In the four matches in the UAE so far, however, they have looked anything but potential champions. They labored to beat Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and China in the group stage before almost being shocked by part-timers Bahrain in the second round. South Korea now face Qatar in the last eight and, as Son said after their extra-time win over Bahrain, they need to significantly improve if they are to avoid a shock exit before the semis.



UNDER PRESSURE — Alberto Zaccheroni and the UAE



The Whites owe their place in the last eight to luck more than skill. In some ways that is not a surprise — the hosts came into the tournament without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman, and on the back of a patchy run of form. But, still, the performances on home soil have been underwhelming to say the least. That was summed up with their extra-time win over Kyrgyzstan, who were playing in their first Asian Cup. It was a far-from-convincing performance and Central Asians were unlucky not to beat Zaccheroni’s side. The UAE will have to deliver their best performance for some time if they are to progress further. Their opponents, Australia, have also performed poorly, which may offer them some encouragement.



BEST HIGHLIGHT — The mighty minnows

The big guns have not had it all their own way. That may annoy their fans, but it does show that Asian football is improving. Only a few years ago the idea that Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain and Jordan would look the equals of Australia and Co. would have seemed fanciful. But in the past two weeks the standard shown by the so-called lesser lights has been impressive — and great to watch. Last summer five Asian teams appeared at the World Cup for the first time and it was hoped that showing would act as a springboard for further progress across the continent. On the evidence of the action in the UAE that wish could be coming true.

 

PREDICTIONS