ECB warns players to uphold cricket’s ‘values’
Missing Ashes tour was punishment enough for Stokes, who realised he had to change his ways
The England and Wales Cricket board has made the right call on Ben Stokes. I believe Ben served enough punishment last winter. He missed the whole Ashes tour, which added up to 12 matches, and two Twenty20 games in New Zealand.
Since returning to the side he has shown an understanding that he had to change his ways. He knew it was a terrible look for the game. Deep inside, he knows he let down a lot of people, but it is time to move on. He has been exemplary in the way he has behaved this year, setting an example to others with his commitment to the team.
Listen to the way Trevor Bayliss spoke about him at the end of the Sri Lanka tour. He said: “Certainly, I think he’s learnt a lesson. The way he’s conducted himself since he has come back into the fold has been exemplary.”
Obviously, that is from a coach who wants one of his best players available, and I understand that, but Stokes is a full-hearted cricketer, desperate to get out there and play for his team. Bayliss has seen first hand how he has tried to make amends.
There were whispers before the Bristol incident that he had an issue with alcohol, but it sounds as though he has matured and you have to give people a second chance in life.
What happened in Bristol was awful. I know he was cleared in court, but he knows he should not have put himself in that position, being out in the street at 2.30am. Nothing good can happen at that time of night and I said at the time the players had to grow up and be smarter. By all means celebrate a victory, but always be aware of your surroundings and know when it is time to go home.
Cricket went through the mill because of what happened. The sport was on the front pages for the wrong reasons, which is why he is guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.
As much as he will argue he was found not guilty in court, the image for the England team was poor and all the players, not just Stokes, had to learn from it by not putting themselves in situations they cannot control.
People will say an example should be made of him. But is not missing an Ashes tour enough? Going to Australia is a massive moment in an England player’s career.
It was right he missed that series and the ECB waited for the exact charge from the police in January before picking him again.
There was no way he could go to Australia with that hanging over his head, but now is not the time to ban him from more games. Let us all move on.
Error of judgment: Ben Stokes (left) and Alex Hales outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol during the early hours in September 2017