Troubled England all-rounder Ben Stokes might be one of the most sought after players in the upcoming auction for the IPL 2018; but given that he was charged with affray by the UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the IPL has guaranteed a replacement for him to the franchise successfully bidding for him in the auction, if Stokes misses the whole tournament.
However, if Stokes only misses a part of tournament; there will be no replacement allowed for the franchise. Stokes is expected to appear in Bristol Magistrates' Court on February 13 to answer the charge of affray.
At a Crown Court, the maximum sentence is three years imprisonment, but if tried in a Magistrates Court it is only six months. Stokes was arrested in September by the police after a dead-of-night incident outside a nightclub in Bristol.
Stokes has not played much cricket since his arrest on September 25, apart from some domestic cricket for Canterbury in New Zealand. Stokes is one of the 16 marquee players who will kick off the two day IPL 2018 auction on January 27 and 28 in Bangalore. He has set his base price at Rs. 2 crore.
Stokes was bought by Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL 2017 for a record Rs 14.5 crore and ended the tournament as the Most Valuable Player. He took his team, RPS to the finals, scoring 316 runs at a strike rate of 142.98, including an unbeaten century against Gujarat Lions. He also picked up 12 wickets with an economy rate of 7.18 in the 12 matches.
Various IPL franchises had confirmed to ESPNCricinfo that Stokes will be one of the most sought after players in the auction. The only question was about his availability and whether IPL will allow a replacement for him, if Stokes returns to England.
In a note to the eight franchises, the IPL said the ECB had granted the player a No Objection Certificate.
"The ECB have confirmed they will issue an NOC for Ben Stokes and advised that the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) will wait for the conclusion of all criminal proceedings relating to the charge against Ben before it runs its independent process," the IPL advisory said.
"Ben's legal advisors have advised that they think it highly unlikely that the criminal proceedings will conclude before the end of IPL 2018," the IPL told the franchises. "They have advised that they do not expect the criminal proceedings will have any impact on Ben's availability for IPL 2018. Due to the uncertainty regarding court dates and therefore his availability for the IPL 2018 season, BCCI confirms that if he is completely unavailable in advance of the season he may be replaced under section 6.1 (e) of the 2018-20 IPL Player Regulations."
If Stokes only misses a part of competition, the IPL advisory stated, "In the event of his partial unavailability due to the court process then he may not be replaced. Player replacements for partial unavailability during the IPL Season are only allowed in relation to player injuries as prescribed by section 6.1 of the 2018-20 IPL Player Regulations."