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ECB clears Stokes’ return to England squad

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London, Jan 17: Controversial English all-rounder Ben Stokes will return to international cricket in February, after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Wednesday lifted his suspension.

The 26-year-old was on Monday charged with affray by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the all-rounder's involvement in a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

Stokes is expected to join the squad in New Zealand for February's T20 matches which form part of the Twenty20 tri-series with New Zealand and Australia.

"Following a full Board discussion, in which all considerations were taken into account, the ECB Board has agreed that Ben Stokes should now be considered for England selection," the ECB said in a statement.

Since the September incident, Stokes has missed a major part of England's summer, specially the five-match Ashes tour to Australia, which the Joe Root-led side lost 0-4.

"To date, Stokes has been unavailable for selection throughout the Police and CPS process around the incident in Bristol in September, a period which has included One-Day Internationals against West Indies, the Ashes tour and the start of the ODI series against Australia," the statement said.

"ECB fully respects the legal process and the player's intention to defend himself against the charge. England selectors, management and players have been informed and Stokes is expected to join the squad in New Zealand for February's T20 matches."

"ECB confirmed in December that the independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) would stay the internal disciplinary process for both Alex Hales and Ben Stokes until the conclusion of court proceedings relating to the incident," it further said.

Following the T20 tri-series in New Zealand, England will play five one-day internationals and two Tests against the Kiwis.

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