London - England star Ben Stokes may have been cleared of
affray but former cricket luminaries while agreeing his behaviour was well
below that expected of a man seen by many as a role model are divided as to
whether he should face further punishment.
The 27-year-old New Zealand-born all-rounder faces an
internal disciplinary enquiry by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC)
following his acquittal by unanimous decision of a jury on Tuesday.
former Derbyshire batsman and qualified solicitor Tim O'Gorman
is heading the investigation.
Stokes's team-mate Alex Hales - who was with him during the
late night brawl outside a club in Bristol, southwest England, last September
but was not charged - will also face the enquiry.
However, former England captains Mike Atherton and Nasser
Hussain whilst both abhorring his behaviour are at odds with each other as to
whether he should be punished further.
"With a not-guilty verdict, the way forward seems, to
me, to be clear enough and should not involve further punishment,"
Atherton writes in The Times.
Atherton, who captained England in 54 of his 115 Test
matches, conceded Stokes's heavy drinking that night and what ensued afterwards
"is not exactly acceptable behaviour for an England player during
"There are clauses in an England cricketer's contract -
such as bringing the game into disrepute - that could yet result in
punishment," the 50-year-old commented.
"Although Stokes was never formally suspended from the
England team, his non-selection for the Ashes came about clearly as a result of
the events in Bristol.
"He missed the most high-profile series in which an
England cricketer can play, essentially a six-month ban."
Hussain, capped 96 times and captained England 45 times till
stepping down from the post in 2003, argued differently saying the images
caught on CCTV cannot just be ignored and the governing body the England and
Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have to act.
"Some people would argue that Ben Stokes has had it
tough, and has served his time in missing the Ashes, but I see it
differently," he told The Daily Mail.
"The ECB should not now take the easy option.
"It is far too serious an issue, and the footage far
too serious, for people to think about moving on and brushing things under the
Former England spinner Vic Marks says in The Guardian there
is no doubt Stokes "brought the game into disrepute" on a "feral
night out" which does nothing to promote the image of the game the ECB
wants to display to families.
Marks draws comparison between Stokes and a superstar
all-rounder of another era and one he played with in the great Somerset side of
the 1970's and 80's, Ian Botham.
"The very best cricketers often ooze invincibility;
they are never out and never wrong," wrote Marks.
"They feel invulnerable, capable of dominating any
"I have witnessed this at close quarters when playing
alongside Ian Botham."
Marks, who played six Tests and 34 One Day Internationals
for his country, says Stokes, though, suffers from being a star in a time when
social media can destroy you within seconds but compares the professionalism
these days of sports stars management teams to those in Botham's day.
"In Botham's era the backroom staff were not so
sophisticated," observed Marks.
"He once had an agent, Tim Hudson, whose response to an
allegation about Ian smoking cannabis was famously, "Doesn't
Marks suggests Stokes take former Australian skipper Ricky
Ponting as a role model in moving forward.
"Ponting had his moments of madness in bars as a young
Australian cricketer and was dropped in 1999 after an incident in Sydney which
left him unconscious in the early hours of the morning," writes Marks.
"He was not required to go to court but he acknowledged
a problem with alcohol and his off-field behaviour, and with appropriate help
he resolved it before going on to have the most brilliant of careers."