Stokes should be on side­lines

Weekend Herald - - Sport - Wynne Gray

The con­spir­acy the­o­ries left me winc­ing as I lis­tened to the English ac­cent of Can­ter­bury cricket boss Jeremy Cur­win ex­plain­ing the ra­tio­nale be­hind sign­ing Ben Stokes to their ros­ter.

It is inappropriate on so many lev­els. It is morally wrong, it is a snub for lo­cal tal­ent and daft to give a po­ten­tial mem­ber of Eng­land’s tour­ing squad next year prac­tice in our con­di­tions as he hopes to be parachuted into the Ashes se­ries.

Can­ter­bury are strug­gling for form and spec­ta­tor sup­port and are hir­ing a tal­ent who has yet to face charges

Wynne Gray

about an al­leged as­sault and they be­lieve can boost their fi­nan­cial and play­ing re­sults. If more spec­ta­tors go to Ran­giora to­mor­row for the lim­ited overs match be­tween Can­ter­bury and Otago, I hope they re­main out­side the ground with plac­ards de­nounc­ing Stokes’ in­volve­ment.

It is inappropriate on so many lev­els. It is morally wrong, it is a snub for lo­cal tal­ent and daft to give a po­ten­tial mem­ber of Eng­land’s tour­ing squad next year prac­tice in our con­di­tions as he hopes to be parachuted into the Ashes se­ries.

Eng­land left him out of their Ashes squad in Aus­tralia af­ter a late night brawl out­side a Bris­tol night­club but Can­ter­bury have signed him sug­gest­ing he would be on the county cricket cir­cuit if that was be­ing played.

Stokes not been charged and Can­ter­bury are us­ing that as their de­fence. But the flash­ing lights should be on about a man who has a lengthy list of poor pub­lic be­hav­iour and drink­ing is­sues.

He needs time out, time to re­flect on his at­ti­tude and how much miss­ing cricket hurts him. In­stead, Can­ter­bury’s com­fort­ing em­brace sends the wrong mes­sages to Stokes, younger more im­pres­sion­able crick­eters and fans who sup­port the game.

Can­ter­bury are giv­ing him a chance to get back into some crick­et­ing nick if he is called across the Ditch to be in­volved in the Ashes. We mock our cuzzies for be­ing the Land of Con­victs but this is stretch­ing the point.

There are ar­gu­ments Can­ter­bury needed Stokes to re­place an­other se­nior bats­man Ken McClure who has stepped down af­ter ad­mit­ting to as­sault. Shouldn’t one case have been enough warn­ing and an op­por­tu­nity for the Cantabs to pro­mote a promis­ing young player.

If Stokes wants to travel half­way round the world with his cricket gear to see his par­ents and wider fam­ily for some Christ­mas bon­homie and sun­shine, that’s fine. He can go down to the lo­cal park and play a bit of so­cial cricket with them as he thinks about the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of his be­hav­iour.

Un­til there is a de­ci­sion on whether the all­rounder has a case to an­swer, ev­ery­one should fall in line with the Eng­land’s de­ci­sion to leave him on the side­lines.

Ben Stokes.

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