Ben Stokes, the England allrounder who is currently under police investigation for his part in a late-night brawl in Bristol last month, has been dropped by his kit manufacturer, New Balance.
The company issued a statement on Wednesday saying his behaviour “does not match our brand culture and values” and that his contract, worth an estimated £200,000 a year, had been terminated. The announcement came shortly after Stokes had tweeted an apology for a separate incident, in which he apparently mocked the disabled son of British celebrity Katie Price, and with his involvement in the Ashes increasingly uncertain.
While the ECB has said Stokes will not travel to Australia until his legal issues are resolved – he was arrested but has not, at this stage, been charged – it remains unclear whether he will be part of the group gathering in Loughborough for a training camp from next Tuesday.
The camp is likely it to involve some fielding practice – the potential loss of Stokes further weakens England’s close-catching – as well as discussion on what to expect in Australia and some bowling with the Kookaburra ball.
New Balance provides Stokes with branded equipment, from bats to boots. In a statement, the company said: “New Balance does not condone behaviour by our global athletes that does not match our brand culture and values, and therefore we have ended our relationship with Ben Stokes, effective October 11, 2017. We will not provide further comment.”
Shortly after the incident in September, which saw Stokes held overnight by Bristol police, a TV ad by brewer Greene King featuring the player drinking in a pub was pulled.
Stokes has also issued an apology after appearing to mock Harvey Price. A video of him impersonating Harvey, who suffers from autism, ADHD, Prader-Willi Syndrome and blindness, circulated shortly after Stokes’ arrest.
He has now publically expressed his regret and, having admitted he should never have acted in such a way, accepted that he behaved “foolishly”. In a statement on Twitter, Stokes said he had contacted both Harvey and Katie Price personally and offered to get involved in their attempts to reduce online bullying.
“Earlier this year I was a shown a clip of Harvey being asked on Loose Women how he responds to internet trolls,” Stokes wrote. “I loved Harvey’s directness with his responses – he said what most of us think but perhaps aren’t brave enough to say, let alone on live TV.
“I foolishly attempted to copy the clip after I saw it a few times. I should never have done this and I am so sorry. It was absolutely not my intention to offend Harvey, Katie or anybody else.
“I have written to both Harvey and Katie to say sorry and prior to this offered to meet in person at the end of last month with a view to also getting behind their petition about online bullying. I do hope I can put this right.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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