Ben Stokes faces jail term if found driving in 2016
England and Durham cricketer Ben Stokes was warned at the Northallerton Magistrates Court that he will be arrested if found behind the wheel of a car within the next six months. He was appearing before the court after pleading guilty to speeding four times within the last two years.
Stokes is on a break from national duty, and is spending some time away from the England team before the ODI series against Sri Lanka. He is recovering from a knee injury picked up in the 1st Test, and his status is being monitored closely by the England team. However, on-road cameras and the law department have been keeping an eye on him as well.
Stokes admitted in court that he had driven at an average speed of 75mph on a 50mph limit section between Barton and Scotch Corner on the morning of 20 September, a day after top scoring in a match against Australia. He also admitted to driving at an average speed of 61mph on the A1 northbound carriageway past the same roadworks on the afternoon of August 26, two days after taking 3 wickets in the final Ashes Test match of the year.
Two charges of failing to reveal the identity of the driver to the police were also pending against him, but they were dropped because Stokes admitted that he had himself been the man behind the wheels.
Stokes appeared for the hearing wearing a dark blue suit with his fiancee Clare Ratcliffe at his side, greeting the counsel as proceedings started.
The court was also informed that Stokes had previously been apprehended for speeding on July 24, 2014, days after taking five wickets in a Test match against India and another three points on September 20 last year, for speeding in a 30mph zone.
Stokes’ counsel Laura Nash said after the judgment that Stokes would not drive a car till the end of this year, and would stop speeding. She also said that he had been looking forward to driving his children to nursery, but would let his fiancee take that burden upon herself.
She said: "He also faces the embarrassment of having to declare the disqualification to his employers, Durham and the ECB (England Cricket Board). He is very much aware that this sends out the wrong message, that a professional sportsman has been captured speeding on four separate occasions."
Magistrate Anna Ramsden also fined Stokes £830, and pronounced that Stokes would face a jail term if found behind a wheel before December 14.
Stokes has had a phenomenal time in the recent past, smashing the second fastest double century in Test cricket, being a vital all-rounder in England’s journey to the World T20 final. If Stokes can stay off the driver’s seat in the coming months, he may continue to enjoy representing his country.