Star England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been warned he could damage his international career irreparably if he does not ”grow up”.
The 26-year-old was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after an incident in Bristol early on Monday morning, and was then released under investigation without charge.
A statement from Avon and Somerset police said the incident took place at around 2.35am, the morning after England’s 124-run win against the West Indies in the third one-day international.
Test vice-captain Stokes and team-mate Alex Hales, who spent his Tuesday driving back to Bristol to voluntarily provide evidence, will miss England’s fourth ODI at The Oval, live on Sky Sports, on Wednesday.
England intend to hold their own investigation into the circumstances of the incident that has overshadowed the naming of the Ashes squad on Wednesday morning.
And former England captains, Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, both believe Stokes needs to take responsibility for his actions.
Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail: “Ben Stokes has the world at his feet and is well on the way to becoming a very special – not to mention very well rewarded – cricketer. But he cannot keep flirting with the self-destruct button while getting himself into such damaging scrapes.
“It has reached the point where it could damage the career of a potentially great England cricketer
“He has to learn to walk away or not put himself into an environment where this can happen.
“He is not going out looking to pick a fight with anyone but it is just how he is. It makes him very vulnerable when outside the cricket environment.
“Just look at where he is going next because if this sort of thing can happen in Bristol then it could happen anywhere in Australia during the Ashes tour.
“Ben Stokes has to grow up. The bottom line is, for all the advice and support he will be receiving right now, it’s down to him. He just has far too much going for him to throw it all away.”
Stokes has found himself at the centre of unsavoury incidents in the past, having been arrested in 2011 for obstructing police on a night out and ultimately cautioned, before being sent home from an England Lions tour in Australia alongside a team-mate for repeatedly flouting rules on late-night drinking.
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And Vaughan believes Stokes must learn to be streetwise off the field.
“Ben Stokes can’t say he was not warned,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph. “People have said to him, ‘There is only one person who can ruin your career and that is you. Nobody else.’
“In time we could be describing him as a cricketing genius. But he has to understand that if he wants to be a superstar, and go over to India, earn huge IPL contracts and keep them, he has to be careful off the field.
“On the field, he is a streetwise cricketer. But he is not streetwise off the pitch and that could be his downfall. I am hoping this is his lesson.”