Play­ers sent ‘re­minder of the stan­dards ex­pected’

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Cricket - By Tom Mor­gan SPORTS NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

The Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board has is­sued a “very strong re­minder” of the val­ues at the heart of the na­tional game as part of des­per­ate ef­forts to re­build the sport’s stand­ing af­ter the Ben Stokes saga.

Play­ers now face strict rules around drink­ing and are sub­ject to a mid­night cur­few af­ter the ugly scenes out­side a Bris­tol night­club last year dam­aged the na­tional team’s rep­u­ta­tion.

Last night, Tom Har­ri­son, the ECB chief ex­ec­u­tive, de­liv­ered a thinly veiled warn­ing to all play­ers about their be­hav­iour. “To­day is a very strong re­minder of the val­ues that sit at the heart of our game and the stan­dards that should al­ways be ex­pected,” he said.

At the time of the in­ci­dent there were no rules on drink­ing for the Eng­land team and the night out had been sanc­tioned by man­age­ment.

Stokes was ar­rested in the early hours of Sept 25 last year, mid­way through Eng­land’s one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries with the West Indies, and then charged with af­fray in Jan­uary. Alex Hales was with Stokes at the time of the in­ci­dent, in which a 27-year-old man suf­fered a frac­tured eye socket.

The scan­dal cast a long shadow over Eng­land’s dis­mal Ashes tour and the head­lines gen­er­ated by it caused rep­u­ta­tional dam­age which the ECB is still re­pair­ing. Har­ri­son and other se­nior fig­ures were ap­palled by the footage of the fight as well as so­cial-me­dia posts from Stokes and Hales which sur­faced in the news­pa­pers at the same time.

After­wards, Stokes lost his spon­sor­ship con­tract with the sports­wear gi­ant New Bal­ance and the ECB was con­cerned that na­tional team spon­sors would also pull out.

The jury at Bris­tol Crown Court were told that Stokes was the main ag­gres­sor and it was al­leged that he had “lost control” in a “sus­tained episode of sig­nif­i­cant vi­o­lence”. But he claimed he was act­ing in self­de­fence and was stand­ing up for Hales, who had been at­tacked with a bot­tle, and for two gay men who were be­ing abused in the street.

Hales was not ar­rested, but it was claimed in court that CCTV footage showed him kick­ing a man in the head while he lay on the ground.

Stokes’s con­trite state­ment yesterday was in con­trast with a stony­faced state­ment his lawyer, Paul Lunt, gave out­side Bris­tol Crown Court af­ter he was ac­quit­ted of af­fray. Lunt had said Stokes had been a vic­tim of “pre-de­ter­mined guilt” by so­cial me­dia and cer­tain sec­tions of the press.

“In ad­di­tion to the ex­treme stress placed on Ben and his fam­ily by the trial, his in­ter­ven­tion that night has al­ready cost Ben the Eng­land vice­cap­taincy, his place on an Ashes tour and other matches,” he added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.