Ben Stokes‘ hopes of avoiding the spotlight when he attends court next week appear to have been dashed.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Stokes, who is set to appear in Bristol Magistrates Court on February 13 to answer charges of affray, requested permission to leave the court via a back door in the hope of avoiding an anticipated media scrum. That permission has been denied, however, meaning Stokes will have to enter and leave the court through the front door.
Stokes was arrested following an incident outside a bar in the city on September 25. Two other men, Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali, have also been called to attend court on the same day in connection to the incident. Stokes has intimated that he will plead not guilty.
Stokes missed the Ashes after the ECB decided he would not be considered for selection until a decision had been made over whether he was to be charged. They have subsequently cleared him for selection and he is expected to depart for New Zealand shortly after his appearance in Bristol Magistrates Court.
It had initially been hoped that Stokes would link up with the squad for the start of the T20 leg of the tour in New Zealand, but a day after he was made available the court date was confirmed for February 13 which is when England play in Wellington.
He will face the ECB’s disciplinary committee following the culmination of criminal proceedings. It is entirely possible that date could be anything up to 12 months away.