The likelihood of Ben Stokes discovering whether he is to face criminal charges for his part in a Bristol brawl before England depart for the Ashes receded on Monday when police renewed an appeal for witnesses.
Although Stokes, 26, is no longer scheduled to fly out on October 28 – as the ECB await the outcome of an investigation into last month’s early-hours altercation that resulted in his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm – he is yet to be ruled out of the series.
England director of cricket Andrew Strauss removed Stokes from the travelling party which leaves a week on Saturday after it became clear that an outcome might not be known for up to two months.
Police investigating the incident which led to Ben Stokes’ arrest have appealed for witnesses
And the timescale of the process was put into further context on Monday when Avon and Somerset Police revealed they are yet to speak to ‘key witnesses’.
‘We’re renewing our appeal to trace two men we believe could be key witnesses to a disorder in Bristol in the early hours of Monday, September 25,’ a police spokesperson said.
‘A 27-year-old man suffered minor facial injuries in the incident.
‘The men we hope to talk to left Mbargo nightclub on Triangle West at 2.19am and walked in the direction of Queens Road with two other men.
‘One of the men we want to trace is described as white, of slim build, 5ft 9ins tall and aged in his early 20s. He had short dark brown hair, was clean shaven and wore a white t-shirt with a sleeveless jumper, jeans and trainers.
‘The second man is also white, 5ft 9ins tall and aged in his early 20s but is of a slightly larger build. He had short light brown hair, was also clean shaven and wore a long-sleeved round neck t-shirt, dark/black skinny jeans and trainers.’
Many believe England would be severely weakened for the Ashes if Stokes does not go on tour
Stokes was arrested and released under investigation while limited-overs specialist Alex Hales, 28, voluntarily attended a police interview.
The ECB suspended the pair from future international matches until further notice, and revealed that their own probe into conduct following the one-day win over West Indies in the city would be launched once the police investigation had concluded.
Stokes married Clare Ratcliffe, the mother of his two children Layton and Libby at a ceremony in Somerset on Saturday.
The first Test against Australia at the Gabba begins on November 23
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