Gay men applaud international sportsman who defended them in public brawl
An England cricketer who defended two gay men in a public brawl has been praised by the men he defended.
Ben Stokes was arrested after an alleged brawl was defending two gay men.
Stokes, 26, was taken in by police after the incident, and would not be considered for selection for England until further notice.
But Stokes was responding to homophobic taunts thrown by two men at two others in Clifton, a suburb of Bristol.
Kai Barry, 26, and Billy O’Connell, 20, the would-be victims in the attack, have now defended Stokes.
And their testimony could mean that Stokes would be cleared over the incident, and may be eligible to play in the First Test in Australia next month.
Speaking to the Sun, O’Connell said: “We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.
“Kai feared he could be attacked. If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.”
Barry added: “I’m not a fighter and we didn’t want a fight. We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.”
Piers Morgan, who is friends with several high-profile cricket players, previously reported that Stokes “intervened to help two gay guys who were being abused by yobs, one of whom was armed with a bottle.
“Stokes has told friends he was incensed by the homophobic taunts, then saw the bottle being raised & decided to defend himself.”
Morgan, who visited a gay club last month despite making repeated hateful statements about non-binary, genderfluid and transgender people, said Stokes “obviously regrets what happened”.
But, Morgan added, Stokes’ view was: “‘They started it, I finished it. I was protecting those guys.'”
Morgan added: “Stokes has told friends: ‘The guy had a bottle in his hand & was threatening us, was I supposed to wait until he smashed it in my face?'”
A 27-year-old was also taken to hospital with facial injuries.
The BBC previously reported that the cricket star – one of England’s best players – was “fragile and devastated”.
He has since been released under investigation after being “arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm”.
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The player, who is England’s vice-captain, has a broken finger and has apologised to the England and Wales Cricket Board.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “The disorder which occurred on Queens Road, Clifton, at around 2.35am on Monday continues to be investigated by officers,” according to the Bristol Post.
“A 26-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and was later released under investigation.
“Anyone who has not yet spoken to police who witnessed any part of the incident, or who captured any footage of it, is asked to call Investigations on 101 providing the call handler with the reference number 5217218578.”