Ben Stokes and Alex Hales remain eligible for selection for England’s cricket team after receiving sanctions on Friday for bringing the game into disrepute following their involvement in a brawl outside a nightclub last year.

Stokes was handed a backdated eight-match England ban, and all of those games are deemed to have been served. He was also fined 30,000 pounds ($38,000).

Hales was banned for six matches in white-ball cricket, with two already served and four suspended. He was also fined 17,500 pounds ($22,250), of which 10,000 pounds ($12,700) was suspended.

The pair was involved in a street brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017, hours after a one-day international against the West Indies.

Stokes, one of the world’s most high-profile players and arguably its best allrounder, denied a charge of affray, saying he was acting in self-defense when he knocked out two men. He was cleared following a seven-day trial at Bristol Crown Court last month. Hales was not charged.

Soon after the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the sanctions after the players, Stokes made his first public apology for his role in the fight.

“I regret the incident ever happened and I apologize to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute,” he said. “I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this process.

“This incident has been a huge burden for the last 15 months. I am relieved to get back to playing the game that I love without this hanging over me. Although the disciplinary process is over, I have learned lessons that will stay with me for much longer.”

FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, England's Alex Hales during a practice session in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, FILE)
FILE – In this file photo dated Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, England’s Alex Hales during a practice session in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, FILE)

Stokes received a ban of six matches for the incident outside the nightclub and another two for filming what the ECB described as an “inappropriate video” on social media.

Hales, an opening batsman, was with Stokes at the time of the incident in Bristol.

“There is no doubt I fell below the high standards expected of an international sportsman,” Hales said, “and that was the reason for my decision to admit the charges and accept the punishment handed down.

“I sincerely apologize for putting myself in a position which allowed these very regrettable incidents to happen.”

Stokes missed the tour of Australia, which included the resounding Ashes series defeat, because of the police investigation that was ongoing. He returned to action for England during the New Zealand tour but was forced to miss the second test against India at Lord’s this summer owing to a clash with his trial.

England’s next assignment is a tour of the West Indies starting January, which includes a three-match test series, five ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals.


Source: The Associated Press

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