England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes says the Bristol bar brawl and the ensuing chain of events, which dogged his career for 15 months, may be the “best thing that could have happened” to him. The ugly episode brought about a change in his lifestyle. Following the incident in September 2017, Stokes was acquitted of affray at Bristol Crown Court in August last year, before the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Discipline Commission concluded his 15-month exile after a hearing in December last year.
“It sounds silly but, could Bristol have been the best thing that could have happened to me? Who knows. But maybe in terms of my way of thinking,” Stokes told ‘ESPNcricinfo’ during a visit to a children’s charity event. Stokes, who is playing for Rajasthan Royals in this year’s IPL, said he was determined to win the upcoming World Cup at home.
“I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who had a fight in the street. I want to do things on the field to be remembered for. If we win the World Cup, that becomes the first paragraph… doesn’t it?”
“I was that close to my career ending and being thrown away just like that. Maybe that is it,” the New Zealand-born cricketer added.
He missed the 2017-18 Ashes series against Australia after being suspended by the ECB pending the police investigation. “No matter what happens in life with me now, the Bristol thing will always be there.
“It’s something I’ll always carry with me. It’ll always be there. Always.”
He said that his off-field activities had changed since his arrest outside a Bristol nightclub, in the wake of England’s victory over West Indies in an ODI.
“I don’t go out anymore. I mean, I might go out for dinner, but I don’t go out-out (for long night and drinks) anymore in England,” he said.
“I used to love going out and celebrating with the lads. But we can do that in the hotel and I don’t miss it. I don’t feel that urge any more. Once you make the transition to not doing it then you don’t miss it,” Stokes said.