England omit Stokes in unchanged squad for third test

James Anderson became the second bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan to pick 100 Test wickets at a particular venue

Bristol, United Kingdom -England cricketer Ben Stokes was found not guilty of affray in a unanimous decision by a jury in less than three hours of deliberations on Tuesday following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

The Durham all-rounder, 27, had denied the charge, relating to his involvement in a fracas in Bristol in September.

He was accused of punching former serviceman Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground, before knocking out firefighter Ryan Ali, 28, during the brawl, which also involved his teammate Alex Hales.

Ali who was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured eye socket said in his evidence he remained in the care of a surgeon and still suffered from double vision.

The prosecution alleges that Stokes also threw a cigarette at the two gay men, Kai Barry and William O'Connor, outside the nightclub, as well as mocking them in a homophobic manner. "It wasn't at all like banter". They are said to have walked off with Mr Hale and Ali.

Tony Miles, the solicitor for Mr Ali and Mr Hale, said: "Both our clients are delighted it's all over". Stokes stuck to his version of the events that unfolded, and reiterated that he threw punches at Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale in an act of self-defence.

"I was trying to stop Mr Ali doing damage to anybody with a glass bottle".

Stokes told police that this led him to think he was in danger of being assaulted. "At all times I felt under threat from these two". "I didn't feel I had an option to leave in the heat of the situation".

The doorman said Stokes had become aggressive and insulted him before the altercation occurred.

"They were complete strangers", Stokes continued.

'We're not the finished article - we've got a long way to go to where we want to get to'.

"The force I used in defending us was reasonable and entirely justified when the circumstances are viewed objectively", he added.

New Zealand-born Stokes said in his testimony last Friday he had a "significant memory blackout" but he was "absolutely not" an angry man who had lost all control.

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