Ben Stokes has pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray over an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
The ECB have confirmed he will now travel to New Zealand to join up with the England squad, who today succumbed to their third-straight T20I tri-series defeat.
A swarm of reporters met Stokes’ arrival at the Magistrates’ Court in London this morning before he entered a not-guilty plea on the basis of self-defence and was granted unconditional bail.
The England all-rounder’s case was referred to Bristol Crown Court, with a first hearing set for March 12. That date falls in the middle of England’s tour but it is understood that he will not have to appear in person. It means that Stokes, who was suspended for the entire Ashes series, can resume his career with England and in the IPL.
An ECB spokesperson said: “Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad.
“He departs tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team mates in Hamilton.
“Any decision to include him in upcoming matches will be made by head coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing international T20 tri-series.
“ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments.
“It has been confirmed that he will not be required to return to the UK for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday 12 March.”