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Ben Stokes to join England in New Zealand after court appearance

F.P. Report

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.

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