Ben Stokes, who has been charged over his role in a late-night brawl, has had his suspension lifted and is available for England again.
The powerful allrounder has been suspended since the incident in Bristol in September, while the case was being ‘investigated’, and subsequently missed the Ashes Tests and the following one-day matches.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board says that now that he has been charged, and because he is to fight the charges, it will lift the suspension, enabling him to play again.
Taking the view that he is innocent until proven guilty, the board says it cannot keep him suspended indefinitely until a court date is arranged.
The 26-year-old was charged with affray on Monday after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September and will appear before magistrates at a date to be set. But before then, he will join the squad for the second half of a triangular T20I series in New Zealand in February.
England then play five one-day internationals and two Tests.
The ECB said that ‘given the potential length of the trial, it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period.’
While suspended, though, the ECB allowed him to play six matches for Canterbury Kings in New Zealand domestic cricket in December.