If Ben Stokes was a simple office worker, labourer, or just about anything except a celebrity sports' star, he would have been suspended from his job pending the final outcome of the due process of the law; he might even have been sacked from his job altogether.
Having been caught on CCTV having a brawl outside a drinking establishment, Stokes was arrested and a police investigation commenced. Quite correctly, the ECB then suspended him from appearing for England's cricket teams. However, and with extreme perversity, now that Stokes has been charged with affray and is set to appear in court, the same ECB has decided that it's perfectly alright for him to resume his England duties.
This makes no sense whatsoever. Stokes disputes the charge and proposes to claim innocence in court, but that's what many accused do; whether he pleads guilty or not guilty is irrelevant, though the ECB seems to think that it's actually a demonstration of his innocence and, therefore, his suspension has been lifted.
In the real world in which most of us live, rather than the celebrity bubble inhabited by the likes of Stokes, his suspension would continue until the court case has been resolved. Even then, it is likely that there would follow an internal enquiry by the employer to determine their position in the matter. Only then would the suspension be lifted or other penalties imposed.
Not so for Stokes. England's knock-about team, the T20 mob, will now have the benefit of Stokes undoubted ability even while he awaits trial on a serious charge which could see him sent to prison if found guilty. Later in the year, Stokes may well return to the Test Match arena, still with the case hanging over him and a potential gaol sentence pending.
It is often said that suspension is a neutral act and is for the protection of all concerned. In this case. it keeps Stokes out of the spotlight, protects the English cricket team and cricketing authorities from criticism and potential ridicule and recognizes that others who were injured in the incident may be severely prejudiced by the apparent not guilty verdict delivered by the ECB. For Stokes to be allowed to return to his normal daily activities in a celebrity environment in which history tells us drinking and partying is a regular activity, is, quite simply, wrong.
It's reported that Stokes will contest the charge which means that the case is likely to go to the Crown Court where it will be trial by jury. How can allowing Stokes to return to his high-profile life not prejudice such a case ? What juror will not have seen some report or other, formed some opinion or other, before the trial ?
This is wrong, wrong, WRONG. Guilty or not, fine cricketer or not, Ben Stokes should remain suspended until proceedings end. The ECB has done itself, the England team, the reputation of English cricket, the alleged victims of Stokes' actions, and, most of all, Ben Stokes himself, no favours at all by their entirely self-interested decision.