- ECB will soon launch a full inquiry into the English players’ behaviour and drinking patterns
- England’s governing board does not want a repeat of the infamous brawl incident involving Ben Stokes
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced that the board will soon launch a full inquiry to audit the national team’s rampant drinking culture and overall ethics. The development comes in light of star all-rounder Ben Stokes finding himself embroiled in a long-standing controversy after the infamous brawl incident in Bristol last September.
“Stokes’ not-guilty verdict should not be interpreted as a green light”
With the game’s reputation being dragged through the gutter during Stokes’ numerous court trials, the ECB is planning on asking all of its contracted players and support staff to buckle down, take a hard look at their personal behaviour and ensure that they do not engage in activities which might let down the image of cricket.
To elaborate on this Ben Stokes news, the governing body is concerned that the all-rounder’s recent ‘not-guilty’ verdict on a charge of affray might be interpreted by the players as an approval to indulge in more drinking sessions while on international duty.
In fact, even after the incident involving involving Stokes and Alex Hales coming to light last year, other English cricketers like Jonny Bairstow, Ben Duckett and James Anderson were found to be going out on late night drinking sessions in Perth during the Ashes series in Australia.
Eventually, it came down to former captain and senior pro Alastair Cook addressing the team in Australia to remind his teammates that their world had changed after the whole Stokes incident when it sunk with them that they could not go out on regular drinking sessions anymore.
With Stokes now back in the English dressing room after being cleared of affray charges, the ECB has gone ahead and instructed head coach Trevor Bayliss to address the matter when he faces the media at Trent Bridge on Thursday. The board also released a formal statement on the matter after including Stokes in the squad to face India in the 3rd Test on Saturday.
“Considerable detail has been heard in this week-long court case and in due course there will be a range of matters for the board to consider,” said the statement regarding this Ben Stokes News.
ECB insiders are also pointing out that the independent Cricket Discipline Commission is now likely to almost certainly charge both Stokes and Hales on their own accord, notwithstanding the Bristol court’s not-guilty verdict.
“It will include everybody involved with the team. It is fair to say everyone will have to have a look at themselves and how they behave,” an ECB source said.
The action on board’s part was started during the Ashes series last year when a formal curfew was imposed on the English players. The same was extended to the New Zealand tour later and is now set to continue when England travel to Sri Lanka and West Indies later this year.
Despite there not being any official restrictions in place this summer as it is hard to enforce them when the team is playing at home, the reduction in number of late night drinking sessions around Test matches is noticeable.
Hales to replace Stokes in the spotlight now?
With Stokes being cleared of his charges and proven not-guilty, the attention is likely to turn to teammate Alex Hales as it was suggested during the trial that the white-ball specialist directed a clear kick at the head of co-defendant Ryan Ali while embroiled in the fracas with Stokes.
The all-rounder’s counsel even implied during the hearing that it could have been Hales who was behind fracturing Ali’s eye socket and that Stokes had nothing to do with it. Hales was however neither charged in the incident, nor called as a witness at any point.
Further, it has also been suggested that there are those within the English setup who were annoyed with Hales’ decision of taking a taxi back to the team hotel after his teammate Stokes had been arrested on spot. The Nottinghamshire batsman also delayed reporting the happening to team management and security advisor Reg Dickason.
As a direct consequence of the brawl incident, Stokes was forced to miss the key Ashes series against Australia and also sat out the limited-overs leg of the tour. It now remains to be seen whether Hales will receive a similar punishment from the Cricket Discipline Commission or not.
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