Ben Stokes has been charged with a crime which apparently means he should become available for England again

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Ben Stokes was suspended from international cricket while the Crown Prosecution Service decided whether or not to press charges relating to the Bristol scuffle. Now that they have decided to charge him, he’s once again become eligible for selection.

We have no real opinion on whether or not Stokes should still be suspended, but we do find the way things have panned out slightly bizarre.

It’s almost as if the England management somewhat arbitrarily postponed making a decision until the next phase of the legal process and then took the one they wanted to take all along because they felt like it had been a while and things had maybe died down a bit.


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  1. When is affray not affray?

    When England need their best players available.

    *punchline needs work.

      1. It seems to have taken a ridiculously long time for the authorities to decide on this specific charge…

        …affray at last, affray at last, thank God almighty, affray at last.

      2. Wondered when you’d enter the fray, Ged.

        Don’t let Ben Stokes go on holiday to the alps, he might join in too much on the affray-ski.

      3. Absolutely anyone can join in…

        …this is affray country after all.

        It’s just as well the fracas happened outside in the city rather than inside on a camp site…

        …where the charges might well have been “wounding within tent”.

  2. I think, their assumption was that a decision could be made on charges at any time and any decision could have an immediate impact on his availability.

    I think their fear was that 2 days into the decisive 5th test (I know, it’s laughable but bear with me), with Ben Stokes on 58* overnight and looking to build on a slim and potentially series winning lead, he could have been formally charged. At this point, if the charges had been more serious than affray (i.e. GBH or ABH), he could have been summoned back to the UK to appear before a magistrate to decide on bail conditions and England are without 20% of their bowling and about the same in their batting with more than half a match still to go.

    Obviously I could be reading the wrong thing into it, but it’s my best guess given that he’s been made provisionally available for England duties until it was obvious that no decision was forthcoming.

    Assumptions that the ECB are making this up as they go along are well founded in the sense that there has been no clear communication with the media or with fans (again, an issue complicated by their duties as employers of Stokes). But they’re dealing with relatively unexplored territory. Off the top of my head, the best comparison’s are Warner’s Walkabout, the 2010 Spot Fixing probe, and Beefy’s fondness for a joint. None of these quite fit the bill, and other sports aren’t much help either- John Terry, football sex scandals, whatever it is uni rugby clubs get up to.

    In short, the only logical conclusion is that some players are best handled between matched by being dressed in a straitjacket and hung form the ceiling by their ankles.

    1. Yeah, that’s true that there is at least clarity on when he’ll be required to make court appearances now – the mid-match appearance was previously a possibility.

      Okay, we’ll buy that. Everyone ignore this article, okay. We can’t be bothered deleting it, so just ignore it.

  3. I think Alec is right to identify the severity of the charges as key.

    Had Stokes been charged with an indictable only offence – e.g. a felony covered by Section 18 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, that would be a far more serious matter than the Public Order Offence charge actually levelled against him (and the others allegedly involved in that street fight).

    The ECB still needs to hold fire on its own disciplinary process because Stokes has not been convicted – merely charged.

    An interesting aspect of the case now is the fact that the combatants have all been charged with the same offence. This presents an analogy with the game theory thought experiment, the prisoners dilemma.

    The rational behaviour in the Stokes circumstance is for all of the combatants to talk the matter down (as much as they can) and all get off relatively lightly. But the more common outcome is for combatants to take the irrational approach of continuing their belligerence in the courtroom, to such an extent that they all end up worse off, sentence-wise.

    1. Agree with Ged.

      As all parties have been charged with affray it suggests they have been deemed equally culpable (and also that they may have given limited evidence against each other.) A worse scenario for the ECB would have seen Stokes charged with assault (or even worse ABH) suggesting he was he was at fault and the other party was merely a victim of his rage.

    2. Stokes seems intent on clearing his name. From my limited experience of the English justice system – jury service – I think he would be well advised to look at game theory rather than his honour.

  4. What about the white trainers he was wearing? Will there be any charges? I have a vague feeling england players are still technically representing MCC, especially abroad. Maybe Lord’s will have something to say vis a vis dress code etc?

  5. Here’s one for the future:

    Afghanistan U19 (not sure to what extent the birth certificates are to be trusted) have comfortably beaten Sri Lanka U19 and Pakistan U19 at the World Cup, and will top their group if they marmalise winless Ireland U19 in the next match as expected.

    Might be proper contenders for the tournament.

    I do wonder if the ICC will end up regretting granting Full Member status to Ireland (though cricket survives as a minority sport in NZ with a similar population still proving internationally competitive). But in the case of Afghanistan, purely in terms of their level of play rather than their governance or women’s development or what media deals they bring to the table, it looks like they’ll fulfil their promise. Someone remind me why their first Test won’t be at Lord’s…

  6. In control systems engineering, the speed of response of the controller is critical. If it is too slow, the controller might end up compensating for a circumstance which is no longer relevant, and hence making things worse. For example, if a heater is trying to keep a room at 20 degrees, and it notices that the temperature has fallen to 18, it will switch on. If it is slow in doing this, the temperature might have already gone to 20, so now the heater will make it 22.

    Perhaps the ECB is carrying out November’s decision now, just a bit late. Stokes will play until he is acquitted at a trial, at which point he will be banned (January’s decision for having been charged). He will only get to play again in July, shortly after he set fire to a primary school.

    1. “Stokes will play until he is acquitted at a trial, at which point he will be banned”

      In fact, might there not be disciplinary procedures that are on hold for the duration of the legal process and will kick in later? In which case this is not entirely implausible…

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