LONDON: The man allegedly punched by England cricket team vice-captain Ben Stokes is a former British Army soldier who served in Afghanistan, the Daily Telegraph revealed.
Stokes is being investigated over accusations of causing actual bodily harm following an incident outside a night club in the early hours of Monday morning in the southwest city of Bristol.
The 26-year-old — who was suspended by England along with team-mate Alex Hales on Thursday, a day after video footage of the incident was published by the Sun newspaper — is accused of punching Ryan Hale, also 26.
Stokes’s place on the tour of Australia hangs in the balance and the all-rounder’s absence would deal a serious blow to the tourists’ hopes of retaining the Ashes.
Hale’s mother — with whom he lives — told the Daily Telegraph her son is not an ‘aggressive type’ adding that the former soldier “is not OK and it is not something that happens on a daily basis”.
The ramifications for Stokes’s fellow England players and their social activities have seen Test captain Joe Root and leading pace bowler Stuart Broad cancel going on the Amsterdam stag party of one-day team wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
Their decision came after former England captain and now director of cricket Andrew Strauss cautioned players over their behaviour off the pitch.
“Strauss read them the riot act and said any misdemeanours just would not be tolerated so Root and Broad have sensibly decided to stay away,” a source close to the England team told the Daily Telegraph.
Police had appealed on Friday for two ‘specific witnesses (both men)’ to come forward with their information.
Hales — who played the last of his 11 Tests for England last year but is a regular in the One Day International side — is expected to be questioned by police next week over allegations the Nottinghamshire opening batsman kicked a man during the fracas.
Stokes, no stranger to off-field disciplinary problems during his career, saw his troubles pile up further on Friday with a video — published on the Daily Express website — in which he allegedly belittles the teenage handicapped son of former model Katie Price.
Price, 39, wrote “Shame him” on her official Twitter account, directly in response to a newspaper report about the video.