England cricketer Ben Stokes will join the side in Hamilton later this week following a court appearance overnight.

The 26-year-old allrounder, who missed the Ashes against Australia last year after being suspended from playing for England, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to brawling along with two other men after a match in September.

The not-guilty plea at Bristol Magistrates' Court enabled the England and Wales Cricket Board to announce that Stoke would travel to New Zealand on Wednesday to join the touring squad.

England next play the Black Caps in Hamilton on Sunday.


The altercation in Bristol unfolded during the early hours of Sept. 25, hours after England played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city in southwest England.

It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident.

Stokes is accused of affray and using or threatening unlawful violence toward another.

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

The other two defendants face the same charge, and also entered not guilty pleas.

The first hearing in the trial was scheduled for March 12.

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