London - England all-rounder Ben Stokes, accused of
involvement in an altercation outside a nightclub that cost him his place on
the Ashes tour, pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray in court on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old, who missed the trip to Australia after
being suspended from playing for England, appeared at a magistrates' court in
the south-western city of Bristol along with Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale.
It follows the altercation during the early hours of
September 25 last year, several hours after England had played a one-day
international against the West Indies in the city.
It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye
socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also
present. Hales faced no charges.
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.
Stokes 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.
All three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at a
"I have decided that your trial will take place at the
crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12," said
District Judge Simon Cooper. "You will be on bail."
Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.
While England were in Australia, Stokes played a few games
for Canterbury Kings during a month-long spell in New Zealand before returning
home to England.