The all-rounder was recently found not guilty of affray after an incident outside a nightclub in Bristol just over a year ago
Ben Stokes admits he is lucky to play for England after his international career was threatened by off-field drama.
It is just over a year since the cricketer was arrested after a late night scrap in Bristol and two months since he was cleared of affray.
In that time he missed the entirety of last winter’s Ashes tour, lost the vice-captaincy and was again absent for this summer’s Lord’s Test against India due to court commitments.
The unhappy chapter is not yet fully closed, with he and team-mate Alex Hales due to face a cricket discipline commission in December, charged with bringing the game into disrepute.
Stokes is unable to talk about the hearing and unwilling to dwell on the recent past but makes no secret of how much he values being back in the team and focusing on cricket.
“I have always viewed my career playing for England as being lucky to be in this situation and you appreciate that a bit more I guess,” he said.
“When you’re in the public eye and you’re a name I guess you are a role model. I’ve always known that and always understood it and that hasn’t changed.
“Looking at things that went on is not the way I like to think. It’s all about looking to the future. Everything I do from here onwards is what people will hopefully remember. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I am constantly being asked this question but with the World Cup and the Ashes next year, it’s tough to think about the past when you have such an exciting thing coming up.
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Faced with the suggestion that his career lay in the balance as he awaited the verdict at Bristol Crown Court, he said: “It’s over and done with now so I don’t like to think about it.”
Support for Stokes within the dressing room has been resounding. His team-mates stayed in regular contact during his time away, welcomed him back with open arms when he returned and have spoken repeatedly about influential status in the group.
And that sense of unity has not gone unnoticed.
“People say you’ve got your work colleagues and your friends but there’s a lot of people in this group, outside of cricket, you’d say are your friends,” he said.
“You find out who they are in tough situations and members of this group have been unbelievable. I think if anyone is going through anything in the future I think it’d be exactly the same.”
For the time being, the best way he can pay his colleagues back is on the field. He is sure to be a crucial figure in the forthcoming Test series, taking on a major workload with bat and ball in draining conditions.
Having sat on the sidelines as England surrendered the urn last winter, he would not have it any other way.
“I have really enjoyed being given the responsibility of being a leader out there and being a leader in the group,” he said.
“Being the player who wants to impact every game that I play in is what I’ve always tried to be. I’ve never looked back on my career and my stats and said ‘I wish I’d averaged this, I wish I’d averaged that’.
“I’d rather be remembered as a player who came on and impacted a lot of games for England. That’s what’s expected of me, I think, and that’s how I like to play. If I ever take a selfish thought-process of I’m doing this for myself, then things will be seriously wrong.”