Ben Stokes should be welcomed back by England for the Third Test – with a yellow card and final warning

BEN STOKES should be given a yellow card, a final warning and told he must never again damage the image of cricket.

But it is right that he is free to play in the Third Test on Saturday and, in my view, the disciplinary commission should not impose further sanctions.

 Ben Stokes can roar back for England - but must be less wild on his nights out

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Ben Stokes can roar back for England – but must be less wild on his nights out

There are people who think missing an Ashes series and having a criminal trial hanging over him for almost 11 months is punishment enough. That is the camp I sit in.

After all, Stokes has been found not guilty in a court of law.

Once you have been cleared by a jury, it is difficult in my view for a sporting authority or, in this case, an independent disciplinary commission to take further action.

And I don’t think Stokes needs to perform a Tiger Woods-style public apology.

 Ben Stokes leaves court after being affray and should now be able to resume his England career, according to pace legend Bob Willis

Reuters
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Ben Stokes leaves court after being affray and should now be able to resume his England career, according to pace legend Bob Willis

Ben Stokes labelled a hero by the two gay friends he stepped in to help during Bristol street fight

But let us be in no doubt this affair is not the sort of advertisement cricket wants, especially as it seeks to attract a so-called new audience.

Along with Joe Root, Stokes is the main pin-up boy of modern cricket.

He should be setting a better example than getting involved in a situation where he punches people in the street at 2.30am.

Call me old-fashioned but I don’t see why cricketers should be in nightclubs at that time of night when they are meant to be on international sporting duty for their country.

 All-rounder Ben Stokes is tipped to come straight back in for England vs India

Reuters
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All-rounder Ben Stokes is tipped to come straight back in for England vs India

What with being sent home from an England Lions tour and punching a locker in Barbados and breaking his hand, you might say Stokes has previous.

One can only hope some sort of lesson has been learned. But, whether his fiery temperament can be tamed, we’ll have to wait and see.

Like Sir Ian Botham and Freddie Flintoff before him, Stokes is a strong-willed character who hates being shackled. And nobody would seriously recommend locking him in his room every night.

But the public scrutiny will only get worse for Ben like it did for Beefy and Freddie.

 Ben Stokes was a key man for England in the First Test before missing the second match due to his trial - but has now been found not guilty of affray

Reuters
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Ben Stokes was a key man for England in the First Test before missing the second match due to his trial – but has now been found not guilty of affray

And Beefy didn’t have to put up with cameras on mobile phones.

I understand Freddie hasn’t touched alcohol for a number of years because he found he couldn’t control himself if he drank.

I don’t think one can dictate that Ben should give up booze but it might be worth his considering the effect it has on him.

Some people — particularly those in Australia — are asking how Steve Smith and David Warner can be banned for 12 months for ball- tampering while Stokes appears to have got off virtually scot free for knocking two men unconscious.

 Ben Stokes must watch his step off the field and become more of a role model

Reuters
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Ben Stokes must watch his step off the field and become more of a role model

But I don’t think you can compare — one offence was committed on a cricket field, the other in the street.

I think Cricket Australia were in the middle of delicate broadcasting negotiations and needed to make a public statement about the behaviour of the team under Smith and coach Darren Lehmann.

And then everyone pointed to Warner as the bad apple.

Ben Stokes innocent and found NOT guilty of affray

Now another tricky decision awaits England — who to drop in order to accommodate Stokes to face India at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

If the conditions in Nottingham are the same as usual — helping seam and swing bowlers as was the case in the Second Test at Lord’s — I would leave out Adil Rashid.

People might argue that, if four seamers can’t do the job, why would five be necessary? But Stokes, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran are all highly capable batsmen as well.

It might sound a cop out but it was a seamers’ paradise at Lord’s and Rashid did not bat or bowl a single ball in England’s win.

Certainly, to omit Woakes after his century at Lord’s or Curran after the way he transformed the First Test would be very harsh.

I don’t think the selectors will exclude Rashid, however, and it is more likely that either Curran or Ollie Pope is left on the bench.

The main worry about Curran being dropped is that England would go back to four right-arm seamers.

That will be fine at Trent Bridge, where James Anderson and Stuart Broad have phenomenal records, but a problem in places like Sri Lanka this winter where England will need greater variety in the attack.

BEN STOKES should be given a yellow card, a final warning and told he must never again damage the image of cricket.