England cricketer Ben Stokes denies affray charge

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Stokes, 26, pleaded not guilty to the charges without being present at the Bristol Crown Court and put across his message through a video link from New Zealand, where he is playing for England.

Fellow defendants Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, appeared in person at the court and also denied the charge.

Stokes missed the Ashes series with England unable to select him for overseas tours until they had learned if he would be charged or not.

England allrounder Ben Stokes won't play in the Lord's Test against India after his trial date for affray was set for August 6 in Bristol's Crown Court.

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The court case relates to an alleged incident outside a nightclub in Bristol during the one-day series against West Indies last September.

The trial is expected to last between five and seven days.

The Durham all-rounder will be absent from the Second Test against India at Lord's, which begins on August 9.

Mr Stokes is accused jointly with Ryan Hale and Ryan Aslam Ali. "You will remain on bail as before".

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While Stokes was given special dispensation to miss the Plea Trial Preparation Hearing, all three defendants were told they "must be here for your trial".

Stokes this weekend helped England win a one day series against New Zealand.

Stokes is due to play in the Indian Premier League after being sold for $1.9 million to the Rajasthan Royals. The judge ordered all three men to provide defence statements by May 22. A 27 year-old man allegedly suffered a broken eye socket in the incident. Hales faced no charges.

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