Ben Stokes made an incredible mistake… now it is time let him get on with

Ben Stokes made an incredible mistake… now it is time let him get on with the rest of his cricket career

  • Ben Stokes and Alex Hales were given their punishments by the ECB on Friday
  • Stokes given eight-match ban that the ECB accepts he has ‘already served’
  • England all-rounder has been through a lot and should get on with his career 

The punishments meted out to Ben Stokes and Alex Hales on Friday are fair. To my mind, they are at just about the right level

 I certainly wouldn’t have been any more lenient, but part of me says Stokes in particular has been through enough now.

He made an incredible mistake. Every day he must think about it. Now let him get on with the rest of his career.

Ben Stokes has been handed his punishment, now let him get on with the rest of his career

Ben Stokes has been handed his punishment, now let him get on with the rest of his career

Alex Hales and Stokes were subject of an investigation by the ECB about an incident in 2017

Alex Hales and Stokes were subject of an investigation by the ECB about an incident in 2017

Let me say that Stokes is an anomaly. From the hours of eight in the morning to eight at night — and they are the only hours I see him — I could not think of a better individual.

The public perception of that video footage, and the Stokes I see during the hours of play, in and around the England team, are polar opposites. You couldn’t think of a better team-mate, a more well-mannered man.

Whenever I walk on to a cricket field in a morning he says, ‘Hello, how are you?’ He’s incredibly well brought-up, he’s so popular within the team and he would do anything for a team-mate.

That’s not the Stokes we saw that evening, and it’s not the first time we’ve had to say that unfortunately. It’s happened a few times, so there has been an issue there. 

Although the way he has acted since that Bristol incident should be noted. After all he’s been through, has he learned from it? Yes.

Has the message been sent out to future generations of cricketers that if you get in the kind of situation he found himself in, you must walk away? Yes. Those two aspects are important to me.

There is no way you could argue the behaviour of those two that night was acceptable 

There is no way you could argue the behaviour of those two that night was acceptable 

Stokes (pictured arriving at his disciplinary hearing) in particular has been through a lot

Stokes (pictured arriving at his disciplinary hearing) in particular has been through a lot

What I wanted, and what all with an interest in English cricket should have wanted out of this hearing, was a clear message from the ECB that the video footage that came out of that night, and subsequently, was not the kind of thing we wanted associated with the England cricket team.

This is not so much a story about now or just about Stokes and Hales. It has much wider implications.

There is no way you could argue the behaviour that night was acceptable and there is no way you could argue it didn’t bring the game into disrepute.

I was pleased that Ben and Alex pleaded guilty to those charges and each made forthright apologies.

The England and Durham all-rounder released a statement on Twitter following the decision

The England and Durham all-rounder released a statement on Twitter following the decision

At the other end of the scale, some people may argue they were not found guilty in a court of law. However, this is not a court of law. You can do things on a cricket field that are not acceptable but that would not be punished in court.

Take swearing at an umpire — that’s bringing the game into disrepute, but you would be fine with regards to the law. These are two very different sets of standards.

This is not ‘have you broken the law?’ It is ‘have you broken the code within your team?’ There is a standard expected of an England cricketer. Have you fallen below those standards and, as a governing body, do we have to do something about that?

The answers to both were yes and in imposing suspensions — albeit retrospective ones — plus fines, the Cricket Disciplinary Commission have sent a message about what will not be tolerated.