The Ben Stokes saga has taken a turn, one that would have been impossible to predict.
The ECB stood Stokes down until the question of whether he would be charged for his role in a Bristol pub brawl.
Now that some charges have been filed, the ECB has declared that Stokes can once again play for England.
That decision is difficult to fathom and truly, why all the fuss about an innocent bar fight. If Stokes were not famous, none of this would be going on.
Stokes was unavailable throughout the Ashes, but it is highly doubtful that his participation would have made much impact on the outcome, as Australia so badly waxed the Poms that it is doubtful that even had the British snuck the Indian XI into action, they could have beaten the Aussies on the lush pitches of Australia.
That may be a bit of hyperbole, but history is written by the winners.
Equal parts consternation and justification met over the ECB’s decision to reinstate Stokes.
Jonathan Liew of the Independent summed it up rather succinctly when he wrote, “How can you ban a cricketer from playing for England while police decide whether or not to press charges, and then lift the ban as soon as charges are brought?” wrote Liew.
Liew went on to make other assertions, using his witty prose to jab at the ECB, but Matthew Syed of The Times seemed to have no issue whatsoever with the ECB’s decision.
Syed fell back on the old “innocent until proven guilty” defense, a cornerstone of democratic juris prudence, but he added an interesting spin when he brought up the reality that an athlete could conceivably see his time on the big stage ruined while waiting for his moment in the docket.
“They work throughout childhood and adolescence, cleaving to the dream of playing country cricket, perhaps even for their country, only to discover that peak performance has an inherently short shelf life,” he wrote. “The human body is fragile. Injury can strike at any time, wrote Syed. “The wheels of justice turn slowly.”
In the Stokes case, “slowly” is too weak an adverb. “Glacially” might even be short of the mark.