Guilty until proven innocent was the outcome Ben Stokes realised for his role in a Bristol pub brawl last year.
The England and Wales Cricket Board stood Stokes down immediately following the altercation. He missed England’sAshes tour of Australia and had to live with the drawn-out legal proceedings that seemed to us, let alone him, drag on interminably.
He has finally been cleared of any guilt of the affray charge that was brought against him. He claimed that he acted in self-defense and he could claim he acted well, as he knock out two men in the street fight.
Stokes was obviously relieved at the verdict that has had him under a cloud for the best part of a year and cost him his slot as vice-captain of the English national cricket team.
The New Zealand born all-rounder will now join up with the Poms for the team’s third Test against India.
In many similar instances, players carry on while the case is adjudicated and other than missing some international play, the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition at least saw fit to pay Stokes almost $2 million for his play with the Rajasthan Royals.
The British prosecutors wanted to lay two charges against Stokes for assault, but the judge in the case cut that down to just the one charge of affray on the basis that Stokes’ actions posed no danger to bystanders.
People who observed Stokes in the club prior to the altercation claimed that he was the partaker of at least 10 drinks. He would have been wiser to stop at nine or fewer and the incident outside might never have taken place.
All of this legal mucking around resulted in Stokes, Ryan Ali and Stokes’ teammate Ryan Hale all being found not guilty.
The altercation cost Stokes his ability to participate in seven of England’s last 11 Tests and now, with the wave of a gavel and a flourish of his wig, the judge declares that all is forgiven.
There is value to being able to wield willow and take wickets.