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Ben Stokes’ court date clashes with potential comeback

LONDON: Ben Stokes’ return to international cricket was thrown into fresh doubt on Thursday when he was instructed to appear in court on the same day as his potential England comeback match in New Zealand.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that the all-rounder is due to make for a first appearance to answer an affray charge at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Feb. 13.

On the same day, England play New Zealand in a T20 in Wellington, their first game in a tri-series also involving Australia.

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Earlier this week, Stokes was cleared by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to resume his England career in New Zealand although no date was set for his actual return.

Trevor Bayliss, England’s head coach, hinted earlier on Thursday that England would like Stokes to gain some match practice before his comeback.

“Hopefully we can get him some cricket somewhere as part of his practice going into the New Zealand leg. That’ll be up to him,” Bayliss told the BBC.

The schedule will now have to be re-examined.

Stokes was left out of the party for this winter’s Ashes series after being suspended from playing for his country as police decided whether to press charges following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September.

The 26-year-old is accused of affray alongside two other men.

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Stokes’ recall has received a mixed reception in England, with some observers questioning why he has been allowed to return when facing charges.

After England’s tri-nation series, they remain in New Zealand to play five ODIs and two Tests against New Zealand.

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