Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes (Getty Images)

Allrounder Ben Stokes was cleared of affray on Tuesday and was slotted back in the England squad for the ongoing five-Test series against India. After playing a crucial role in England’s victory at Edgbaston, his name was omitted for the 2nd second Test as he was to attend his affray trial.

Stokes and his England teammate Alex Hales were involved in a brawl near a Bristol nightclub in September 2017. However, despite them being cleared of the allegation, both might face punishment from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The duo will face an an internal disciplinary enquiry conducted by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC).

However, former England cricketers are divided weather Stokes needs to be punished despite the clearance. Former captain Michael Vaughan advocated  against any further action asking to “take into account the time he has already served” and “there is no need to keep clobbering him with suspensions.”

Another former captain Mike Artherton was also supportive in his column for The Times. “With a not-guilty verdict, the way forward seems, to me, to be clear enough and should not involve further punishment,” he wrote.

However, Nasser Hussain, who led England in 45 Tests, differs  saying ignoring the situation and seeking an easy way out will only send a wrong message to the general public. 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.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 carpet,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Former England spinner Vic Marks cited the example of legendary England allrounder Ian Botham and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting to further the case for Stokes.

“In Botham’s era the backroom staff were not so sophisticated,” Marks wrote in The Guardian. “He once had an agent, Tim Hudson, whose response to an allegation about Ian smoking cannabis was famously, “Doesn’t everyone?”

Before captaining Australia, Ponting rubbed his cricket board the wrong way for his lifestyle and drinking issues. He once went out drinking after an ODI against England that resulted in him being punched outside a Sydney bar. He was fined and banned for three matches.

Marks suggested Stokes could learn from Ponting in finding the resolove to deal with his off-field issues and focus his attention entirely on his cricket career.

“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,” Marks wrote. “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.”