1. ITV Report

Ben Stokes to join England squad in New Zealand after court hearing

Ben Stokes arrives at Bristol Magistrates Photo: PA

Cricketer Ben Stokes will travel to New Zealand to join the England squad after appearing at court charged with affray.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed that the all-rounder will depart on Wednesday and arrive "ready to train with England team mates" on Friday.

Stokes, 26, appeared at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Tuesday charged with affray along with two other men.

He indicated a not guilty plea to the charge against him, relating to an incident outside a nightclub in Bristol on September 25 last year.

Following the court appearance, a spokesman for the ECB 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 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team mates in Hamilton.

"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.

"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."

The ECB spokesman said Stokes would not be required to return to the UK for a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on March 12.

Stokes missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England. Without him, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.