Cricket: Ben Stokes cleared of ‘affray’

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

All rounder England cricketer Ben Stokes, 27, has been cleared of a charge of ‘affray’ arising out of a Bristol night club brawl in which he was involved last September. Under the Public Order Act of 1986, a person is guilty of an ‘affray’ if “a person uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and his conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety.”

Following the Jury’s not guilty verdict handed down on 14 August, after a six-day trial at Bristol Crown Court in the West of England, Stokes has been included in the squad that will play India in the next Match at Trent Bridge on 18 August in the current five Test Match series.

Now that the Court proceedings are over, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the sport’s governing body, will start disciplinary proceedings against him. Stokes is expected to face a charge of ‘bringing the game of cricket into disrepute’ – a rather vague concept in any sport.

It will be interesting to see if this happens and what sanctions, if any, are imposed upon him by the Cricket Disciplinary Commission.

Stokes’ lawyer, Paul Blunt, said after the Court case:

“I think the fact that he missed the whole of the Winter in Australia is punishment enough for Ben Stokes.”

But, the Commission will decide the matter.

Certainly, this affair has sullied the genteel name and reputation of English Cricket, which has given rise to the expression, in wide general use, of ‘it’s just not cricket’ to describe something that is not right or above board!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’