Ben Stokes to join up with England squad in New Zealand

Stokes to join up with England squad
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The ECB announces that Ben Stokes will join up with the England squad in New Zealand after pleading not guilty to affray.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed that Ben Stokes will fly out to New Zealand on Wednesday to join up with the rest of his England teammates.

The all-rounder has not featured for his nation competitively since being charged with affray following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

Today, at Bristol Magistrates' Court, the 26-year-old entered a plea of not guilty.

The ECB has since announced that Stokes will be up for selection for upcoming matches against New Zealand and he is not required to be present for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on March 12.

A statement read: "Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad. He departs tomorrow, Wednesday February 14, and will arrive on Friday February 16, ready to train with England teammates in Hamilton.

"Any decision to include him in upcoming matches will be made by head coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing International T20 Tri-Series.

"ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments.

"It has been confirmed that he will not be required to return to the UK for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday March 12."

Co-defendants Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, have also pleaded not guilty.

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Ben Stokes in action for England in September 2016
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