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England all-rounder Ben Stokes will head to Crown Court to contest his charge of affray after entering a plea of not guilty.
Arriving at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning, Stokes appeared alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, who both also pleaded not guilty to charges of affray.
The date in court came after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September where it is alleged a man suffered a fractured eye socket following an altercation.
Stokes was banned until the conclusion of Avon & Somerset Police’s investigation meaning he missed England’s Ashes tour of Australia.
With the ECB withdrawing the selection ban last month, Stokes is now eligible to travel to New Zealand to meet up with his England team-mates ahead of Friday’s T20 and possibly next Wednesday’s final.
Naming a date for Stokes’ Crown Court appearance, District Judge Simon Cooper told all three defendants: “I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12. You will be on bail.”