Stokes’ re­turn met with crit­i­cism

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport -

For­mer Eng­land cap­tain Mike Ather­ton is aghast at the de­ci­sion to in­vite Ben Stokes to play in New Zealand.

Ather­ton, writ­ing for The Times news­pa­per, be­lieves Stokes, who was sched­uled to join his Eng­land team-mates in New Zealand yes­ter­day hav­ing ear­lier pleaded not guilty to a charge of af­fray fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent in Bris­tol last year, shouldn’t be al­lowed to restart his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer with the bless­ing of the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Hav­ing con­sid­ered the for-and-against ar­gu­ments of whether Stokes, who had not been se­lected for Eng­land’s dis­as­trous Ashes se­ries in Aus­tralia late last year, should be re­called to rep­re­sent his coun­try, Ather­ton de­cided it was wrong to al­low him the priv­i­lege of do­ing do.

‘‘It would be hard not to have a high de­gree of sym­pa­thy for gov­ern­ing bod­ies in th­ese sit­u­a­tions,’’ Ather­ton wrote.

‘‘Al­leged mis­de­meanours can vary in se­ri­ous­ness, as can the con­se­quences, and so there are no hard and fast rules to fol­low. That said, the best that can be of­fered for the ECB’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing as Stokes lands in New Zealand hav­ing missed the en­tire Ashes se­ries, is that it is highly il­log­i­cal; at worst, it is fee­ble and ex­pe­di­ent.’’

Stokes is not ex­pected to play any in­ter­na­tional T20 games, but will in­stead be kept on ice un­til the one-day in­ter­na­tion­als against New Zealand.

There has been no short­age of sup­port for Stokes to re-start his ca­reer with Eng­land, some­thing Ather­ton ac­knowl­edged.

But he said he still be­lieved the ECB were wrong, in his view, to pick Stokes to re­turn to the coun­try where he was born and raised un­til his par­ents left Christchurch to live in Eng­land.

Ather­ton wrote that ‘‘play­ing for Eng­land is an hon­our to be be­stowed, not a right to be de­manded’’.

The ECB was wor­ried about le­gal ad­vice, and the po­ten­tial for Stokes to chal­lenge them on a re­straint of trade, should the trial take a pro­longed pe­riod of time, and there was no ap­petite for the po­ten­tial sub­se­quent cost, PR dam­age and the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in re­la­tions that could en­sue be­tween the two par­ties.

Ather­ton ar­gues that Stokes, who played for Can­ter­bury in the New Zealand do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion late last year, was not pre­vented from earn­ing a liv­ing be­cause he re­mained on full play while sus­pended from in­ter­na­tional duty.

Ben Stokes

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