England all-rounder Ben Stokes to fly to New Zealand ahead of ODI series

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Stokes leaves the Bristol court after his hearing.

Ben Stokes will fly out to join England‘s tour of New Zealand in the next 24 hours.

The 26-year-old all-rounder pleaded not guilty to affray at Bristol Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning and was granted bail before the next hearing in the case takes place on March 12.

Shortly after Stokes’ first court appearance, the England and Wales cricket Board issued a statement confirming his travel plans.

He is not expected to make an immediate return to the team in the next week, however, as he bids to resume his international career after more than four months of unavailability.

An ECB spokesman said: “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 team-mates in Hamilton.”

England, who lost the Ashes in Stokes’ absence this winter but hit back with a 4-1 victory in the subsequent one-day international series against Australia, are in danger of an early exit from the ongoing Twenty20 tri-series after defeat against New Zealand in Wellington on Tuesday.

The ECB spokesman added: “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.

“(The) 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.”

Stokes’ leave from court proceedings on that date perhaps suggests a feasible return to England colours for bilateral ODI and Test series against New Zealand which begin with the 50-over leg on February 25 and end in his native Christchurch on April 3.

It was confirmed at his Tuesday hearing that he will face a crown court trial over an altercation outside a nightclub in Bristol last September.

The Durham match-winner and England’s Test vice-captain – who was suspended from playing in the Ashes while he waited to hear if he would be charged – is accused of affray along with two other men.

Stokes appeared in court on Tuesday alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26.

It follows the altercation in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of September 25 last year – several hours after England had played a one-day international against West Indies in the city.

It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which Stokes’ England team-mate Alex Hales was also present.

Stoke's crown court trial will begin on March 12.

Stoke’s crown court trial will begin on March 12.

Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities.

The clerk read out the charges, and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.

The full charge sheet shows that Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, is accused of affray on September 25 at Queens Road in Bristol.

He is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another.

The charge states that his “conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety”.

The other two defendants face the same charge.

Affray is an either-way offence, meaning it can be tried at the magistrates court or the crown court. But all three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at the crown court.

District Judge Simon Cooper told the 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

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Pakistan's Hasan Ali among the world's top 10 leading ODI players

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Pakistan star Hasan Ali has made a terrific start to his international career.

In no particular order, here are our top 10 ODI cricketers in the world at present.

HASAN ALI  (PAKISTAN)

The new darling of Pakistan Cricket, the right-arm quick’s Player of the Tournament display during Pakistan’s famous ICC Champions Trophy victory against India in England last summer will live long in the memory and the 24-year-old has made an explosive start to his ODI career, taking 62 wickets in just 30 matches.

IMRAN TAHIR (SOUTH AFRICA)

Currently the top-ranked bowler in the format, the South African is a master of his art when in comes to halting the opposition in its tracks with leg-spin. He may be 39 next month but is certainly not slowing down with his subtle bowling variations making him a threat in most conditions.

The South African spinner is the No1 ODI bowler in the world currently.

The South African spinner is the No1 ODI bowler in the world currently.


JASPRIT BUMRAH
(INDIA)

The 24-year-old’s slingy action has quickly become a key component of the Indian attack in all formats, with his pace and unerring accuracy making him the perfect man for Virat Kohli to do a job at both opening the bowling and in the death overs. Bumrah captured 45 wickets in 27 50-over contests last year and has a decorated career ahead of him.

VIRAT KOHLI (INDIA)

No ODI top 10 could be complete without the talismanic Indian captain, who along with Sachin Tendulkar, has been labelled the best one-day player of all time. Kohli’s stats are a freak of nature and he rewrites history in the old ancient game virtually every time he arrives at the crease.

Kohli just keeps on racking up staggering numbers.

Kohli just keeps on racking up staggering numbers.


KAGISO RABADA
(SOUTH AFRICA)

The lively Proteas paceman has been a joy to watch since bursting onto the international scene three years ago and his fast bowling is continuously evolving. With natural express pace dying out in the game, the 22-year-old right-armer has reminded all teams how important a paceman’s worth is in one-dayers.

SHAKIB AL HASAN (BANGLADESH)

The undisputed hero of Bangladeshi cricket, the all-rounder has had a prolific impact with both ball and bat and been the mainstay in the Tigers’ emergence as a strong limited-overs force. Has well over 5,000 runs to his name and nearly 250 wickets, demonstrating his class in the format.

DAVID WARNER (AUSTRALIA)

Boasting true muscle and power at the top of the order, the Aussie has been a consistent force for a long while now and continues to be the man the current World Cup holders rely on to set the platform. His bruising presence can still knock bowlers off their strides.

Warner's consistency over the years is astonishing.

Warner’s consistency over the years is astonishing.


BABAR AZAM
(PAKISTAN)

The young batsman is the man of the moment, having scored seven centuries at an average of over 50 in his first 41 ODIs. There’s big expectation on his shoulders but he has already shown he is the next Misbah or Younis Khan in the making with a great thirst for runs.

TRENT BOULT (NEW ZEALAND)

Perhaps the sultan of left-arm swing in international cricket, the Kiwi can be devastating first up and is arguably the world’s best opening bowler in this format. Can move the ball both ways and is still at the peak of his powers. 113 wickets from 61 ODIs is impressive.

JOE ROOT (ENGLAND)

He may have missed out in the IPL auction but the Yorkshireman has proved everything in 50-overs competition and is a lynchpin in the England batting ranks. An example of a proper batsman who has all the tools to do the job no matter what the scenario might be.

Root's numbers over the past two years have been excellent.

Root’s numbers over the past two years have been excellent.

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Kane Williamson plays a captain's knock to guide New Zealand to victory over England

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Wiliamson's 72 was at the forefront of New Zealand's victory.

Captain Kane Williamson silenced his critics with a half century as New Zealand defeated England by 12 runs in the fourth match of the T20 tri-series in Wellington Tuesday, severely denting the tourists’ hopes of making the final.

Williamson top-scored with 72 from 46 balls and opener Martin Guptill contributed 65 as the Black Caps battled to a tight victory over England.

The hosts had set a target of 197, and restricted England to 184 for nine in reply.

The result leaves Jos Buttler‘s men without a win in the series after losses to Australia in their previous two matches.

Buttler put the hosts in after winning the toss, hoping an mottled-looking drop-in pitch with huge bald patches would prove unplayable.

But the gamble backfired as the wicket held up and New Zealand’s batsmen finally hit their stride after three straight T20 losses.

“The wicket obviously played a lot better than everyone thought and produced a really good game,” said Buttler, who was standing in as captain for the injured Eoin Morgan.

Williamson said it was a crucial win for New Zealand, who can seal a spot in the final of the triangular series with a win over Australia on Friday in Auckland.

On a personal note, his captain’s knock was also rewarding after he had come under fire for a recent lean spell in the shortest form of the game.

“There’s been a number of occasions recently when I’ve wanted to contribute more, so it was nice to spend some time in the middle today,” he said.

Guptill's and Williamson's fifties set the tone for New Zealand.

Guptill’s and Williamson’s fifties set the tone for New Zealand.

New Zealand’s move to shore up the batting also paid off as former Hong Kong international Mark Chapman made a useful cameo of 20 off 13 on his New Zealand debut.

But the target was still achievable given Westpac Stadium’s small boundaries, and England shrugged off the early loss of Jason Roy as fellow opener Alex Hales took up the cudgels.

Hales blasted three sixes and six fours in 24 balls to depart on 47, and England looked comfortable as they reached 95 for two.

However when a dawdling James Vince was run out by Williamson, it started a steady stream of wickets that stole England’s momentum.

Dawid Malan valiantly tried to revive the innings with 59 off 40 balls, but the only other batsman to offer any resistance was David Willey, whose departure on 21 spelled the end of England’s chances.

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