BEN Stokes should play in the Ashes despite being caught on video punching two men in a vicious late-night street brawl, according to sports fans.
The England vice-captain and his team-mate Alex Hales have been kicked out of the national team until further notice after The Sun released an exclusive video showing the pair caught up in the row outside a bar in Bristol at around 2.30am on Monday morning.
Stokes is seen unleashing around 15 blows and was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after the incident, which has thrown serious doubt over his inclusion in this winter’s Ashes squad.
The 26-year-old all-rounder, who was released without charge, and Hales both face further police questioning and as things stand Stokes will not fly to Australia with the team on October 28 unless he is cleared by the ECB.
But in an exclusive Sun/Voice of the Fans poll of more than 11,000 fans, 54 per cent voted that Stokes SHOULD still be part of the team to take on the Aussies Down Under.
The public backing for Stokes, who is still being paid his £700,000 annual retainer by the ECB, is unlikely to affect the decision by cricket chiefs on whether or not to take him to Oz.
A statement by the ECB yesterday said: “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be considered for selection for England international matches until further notice.
“Each remains on full pay pending further ECB investigation and the ongoing police investigation into an incident in Bristol in the early hours of Monday 25 September.
“Andrew Strauss, Director of England Cricket, will today refer the internal disciplinary procedure for these two players to the Cricket Discipline Commission, chaired by Tim O’Gorman.
“These decisions, fully supported by ECB Chairman Colin Graves, were made following the release of footage viewed by ECB for the first time on Wednesday night.”
Avon and Somerset police have said investigations were ongoing into the incident.
Stokes has come under further fire after a video of him appearing to mock Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey was exclusively released by The Sun.
And he now faces accusations of being a hypocrite after a tweet by Stokes calling fallen former boxing champ Tyson Fury an “embarrassment to professional sport” from last October emerged.