(ESPNcricinfo) Ben Stokes, England’s Test vice-captain, has been arrested after an incident in Bristol during the early hours of Monday morning. Stokes spent the night in prison but was released without charge. His team-mate Alex Hales was also present and both have been suspended for Wednesday’s ODI against West Indies.
The incident happened after England’s victory during the third ODI against West Indies on Sunday, in which Stokes scored 73. Somerset and Avon police confirmed that a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm – an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years – while another man was taken to hospital with facial injuries.
Neither Stokes nor Hales was present at The Oval for training ahead of the fourth match of the series. Hales has returned to Bristol to assist police with their inquiries. The news comes less than 24 hours before England’s Ashes squad to tour Australia was due to be announced.
An ECB statement said: “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be available for tomorrow’s one-day international match against West Indies at The Oval.
“Stokes was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning, 25 September, following an incident in Bristol. He was held overnight and released under investigation – without charge – late on Monday and will not join the team in London.
“Hales, who was with Stokes on Sunday night, did not train this morning and has returned voluntarily to Bristol today to help police with their enquiries.”
Stokes was released from police custody on Monday. Andrew Strauss, England’s director of cricket, added: “I went to see Ben last night down in Bristol. I will be addressing players this afternoon after practice. We will obviously be launching our own investigation into the circumstances surrounding this. The Ashes selection will be going ahead on form and fitness as planned.”
Somerset and Avon Police said they had been called to a scene of “disorder in the Queens Road/Clifton Triangle area at around 2.35am” on Monday. In a statement appealing for witnesses, they said: “A 27-year-old man suffered facial injuries and was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment. A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.”
Stokes has faced disciplinary action over his behaviour before. In 2012, he was arrested on a night out and received a caution from the police; then in 2013, he was sent home from an England Lions tour over late-night drinking. He also put himself out of the 2014 World T20 after breaking his hand when punching a locker.
He made his Test debut on the 2013-14 tour of Australia, when England were whitewashed 5-0, and was appointed Joe Root’s vice-captain earlier this year. One of England’s most important players, Stokes has produced a series of increasingly mature performances this summer, with bat and ball.
Hales, England’s first-choice white-ball opener, has been capped in all formats and was considered an outside bet for Ashes selection.
Eoin Morgan, England’s limited-overs captain, said that he was informed about what had happened on Monday. “Ben and Alex will be unavailable for tomorrow’s games, so there are two positions up for grabs,” he said. “It has been a bit of a distraction but this game is about winning the series.”
England’s 124-run victory in Bristol put them 2-0 up in the five-match series, with two to play. The absence of Hales is likely to mean a recall at opener for Jason Roy, while Jake Ball or Tom Curran could come in for Stokes – although neither provides the same all-round option.