An England cricketer has been charged with affray after allegedly defending two gay men from attack.

Ben Stokes, 26, was arrested by police on suspicion of actual bodily harm in September.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: England player Ben Stokes raises a smile during England nets ahead of the 1st ODI against West Indies at Old Trafford on September 18, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

This followed an incident in the early hours of the morning outside a nightclub in the Clifton area of Bristol.

Stokes was due to travel with the England squad to Australia for the prestigious Ashes series, but missed out after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) suspended him pending any legal developments.

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Ben Stokes of England shows his frustration after being dismissed off the bowling of Rovman Powell for 73 runs during the third Royal London One Day International match between England and West Indies at The Brightside Ground on September 24, 2017 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

On Twitter, Stokes said the Crown Prosecution Service’s charge was “an opportunity to clear my name”.


“I want to thank all those who have continued to support me in relation to the Bristol incident, not least my family, friends, fans and teammates,” he wrote.

“I gave a full and detailed account of my actions to the police on the day – and have cooperated at each step of the police inquiry.

RANGIORA, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 22: Ben Stokes of Canterbury looks on during the Super Smash match between the Canterbury Kings and the Central Stags on December 22, 2017 in Rangiora, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

“I am keen to have an opportunity to clear my name but, on advice, the appropriate time to do this is when the case comes to trial.

“The CPS’ decision to charge me, as well as Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, at least means that my account of what happened that night can come out in court and be made public,” he told fans.

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“Until then, my focus is very much on cricket.”

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ben Stokes of Canterbury looks dejected after missing a catch during the One Day Ford Trophy Cup match between Canterbury and Northern Districts on December 10, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Ali, 28, and Hale, 26, are also both charged with one count of affray.

The ECB said that it would decide in the next two days whether Stokes – who was England’s vice-captain when he was arrested – would now be allowed to play for his country.

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Ben Stokes of England (C) looks on during an England Nets Session at the Brightside Ground on September 23, 2017 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

A spokesman added: “The ECB is aware that Ben Stokes has been charged with affray in relation to an incident in Bristol in September,” according to The Guardian.

“The board will now convene within 48 hours to decide on Ben Stokes’ availability for England at this stage.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08:  Ben Stokes of England dives for the ball during day two of the 3rd Investec Test match between England and the West Indies at Lord's Cricket Ground on September 8, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“A further announcement will be made in due course.”

The CPS said in a statement: “The CPS was passed a file of evidence by Avon & Somerset Police on 29 November, 2017 in relation to an incident of disorder in Bristol city centre.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 06:  Ben Stokes of Canterbury bowls during the Ford Trophy match between Auckland and Canterbury at Eden Park on December 6, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

“Further material was subsequently received in late December.

“Following a review of all the available evidence, the CPS has today authorised the police to charge three men with affray in connection with the incident.”

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