Stokes coming to NZ after not-guilty plea

Allrounder Ben Stokes will join England in New Zealand but an immediate playing appearance has been ruled out.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed Kiwi-born Stokes will arrive in Hamilton on Friday after appearing at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Tuesday charged with affray along with two other men.

The 26-year-old offered a not guilty plea to the charge against him, relating to an incident outside a nightclub in Bristol in September last year. He was placed on unconditional bail.

Following the court appearance, an ECB spokesman confirmed Stokes would travel to join the team involved in the tri-series Twenty20 international tournament involving New Zealand and Australia.

The English lost by 12 runs to the Black Caps in Wellington on Tuesday.

By the time they face New Zealand again in Hamilton on Sunday, England may have already had their hopes of contesting the final scuppered.

Either way, Stokes won't be considered for the game at Seddon Park.

"Any decision to include him in upcoming matches will be made by head coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team," the ECB spokesman said.

"He is not currently being considered for the ongoing International T20 Tri-Series.

"ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments."

The ECB spokesman said Stokes will not be required to return to the UK for a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on March 12.

That may make him available for the five-match one-day international series in New Zealand beginning on February 25 and two Tests from March 22.

Stokes missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England.

Without him, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0 although they bounced back to win an ODI series.

The cricketer, dressed in a dark suit, appeared at Bristol Magistrates' Court alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26.

They are jointly charged with affray in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol on September 25 last year - several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies.

The charge states that their "conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety".

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