English police have renewed their appeal for two men, who could be ‘key witnesses’ to the incident that has placed talismanic England all-rounder Ben Stokes’ place in the Ashes tour in jeopardy.Stokes was withdrawn from the Ashes squad by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in the wake of pending investigation into the incident that led to his arrest in Bristol on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm. Hales was with Stokes at that time.The 26-year-old Durham all-rounder was released without charge but remains under police investigation.Hales, who was also with Stokes during the incident that took place outside Mbargo nightclub in the Clifton area of Bristol in the early hours of September 25, has also been made unavailable for selection by the ECB.Hales’ lawyer, however, had said last week that he would be “surprised” if he faced further action.Last week, Stokes’ agent Neil Fairbrother had said that the all-rounder would give a full explanation of his action “when the time is right”.According to ESPNcricinfo, Stokes had claimed to both the police and to the ECB in their internal investigation that he was coming to the aid of two men who had been subjected to homophobic abuse prior to the incident.Following a previous appeal on September 28 for two key witnesses to come forward, Somerset and Avon Police have launched a fresh appeal into the matter.”One of the men is described as white, of slim build, 5ft 9in tall and aged in his early 20s. He had short dark brown hair, was clean shaven and wore a white T-shirt with a sleeveless jumper, jeans and trainers,” the police said in a statement.advertisement”The second man is also white, 5ft 9in tall and aged in his early 20s but is of a slightly larger build. He had short light brown hair, was also clean shaven and wore a long-sleeved round neck T-shirt, dark/black skinny jeans and trainers,” the statement continued.In Stokes’ absence, Steven Finn was roped into the squad as Stokes’ replacement for the full five-match Test series.The much-awaited Ashes series will begin at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 23.
Read more Euro 2020 Gareth Southgate England Hide Share on Messenger Sportblog 1:47 Twitter: follow us at @guardian_sportFacebook: like our football and sport pagesInstagram: our favourite photos, films and storiesYouTube: subscribe to our football and sport channels Play Video Ross Barkley says future is bright for England’s ‘frightening’ young talent Share via Email It certainly felt that way in Podgorica on Monday when Montenegro’s press officer told journalists there had, in fact, been no racism whatsoever at the Euro 2020 qualifier and the manager, Ljubisa Tumbakovic, followed up by shaking his head, wearing a look of complete bewilderment, and saying it was news to him, too.One of the local reporters put up his hand to express amazement that it was such a problem when, as far as he was concerned, it was a small incident involving, at most, 10 people? Would the English press be so fixated on this subject, he asked Southgate, if it was a country England liked more? The US, for example. Play Video Share on Facebook Was this helpful? Share on Pinterest Quick guide Follow Guardian sport on social media Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images Europe Should Southgate have instructed his players to walk off? He was asked that question and, being the kind of man he is, felt it necessary to apologise if anybody thought he had not done enough. It is worth remembering, though, that the abuse for Rose happened within seconds of the final whistle, rather than it being audible throughout the match. But Southgate understood the question and the fact, more than anything, that many people want action, not words.He needed time to reflect, he said, and talk it through with his players and staff. “You have asked me a question about should I have taken off the team? And should I have done more? So I want to reflect on whether I should have handled everything differently. The last thing I would want is to feel I have let down the players or missed an opportunity to highlight the subject.”It was difficult to remember him in any other moment since he took the job when he had looked so low. Share on WhatsApp Montenegro coach ‘did not hear’ racist abuse that tarnished England win – video Share on Twitter comment Equally, it is too easy sometimes to pin all the blame on the authorities and fall into the trap of thinking more disciplinary measures would automatically make everything better. It would not – and Southgate, to give him due, always makes that point.“I can’t discuss sanctions because what is the right sanction?” he said. “Is it a big fine? Is it the closing of sections of a stadium? What is honestly going to make any difference?“The difference for me is educating people. Kids are born into the world and they don’t have a bone of malice in their body, so it is what we impose on them as adults. We can criticise authorities for sanctions but the problem goes deeper than sanctions.” Topics 1:31 Show ‘Devastating’ Sterling has become England leader, says Southgate – video Montenegro He would have made a better point, perhaps, by asking whether Southgate’s employers at the Football Association are in any position to be preaching to anyone. As it was, he was the only Montenegrin journalist who addressed the subject and he left the impression, whether it was intentional or not, that he regarded it as a manufactured controversy, a slight on his nation and typical English arrogance.To be clear, it was only the Rose incident that was audible from England’s dugout, the press box or the seats accommodating the FA officials. Yet the pitch-side photographers could hear the monkey noises throughout the second half and so could the players. Raheem Sterling certainly heard it judging by the goal celebration, cupping his ears and staring down his abusers. Callum Hudson-Odoi, an 18-year-old making his full England debut, heard it. Rose, who did not want to speak about what had happened, could hardly miss it – and, despite the selective hearing of some, it was a lot more than 10 people. That applies to Fifa, as well as Uefa, who charged Montenegro with racist behaviour on Tuesday, and Southgate can say this with good authority because of his conversations on this specific subject before last year’s World Cup in Russia. “Some of them did not even want to report things,” he said. “They don’t have faith that things will be dealt with appropriately, or that it would make a difference.”That hardly comes as a surprise when, to offer just one example, Rhian Brewster and Morgan Gibbs-White from England’s World Cup-winning under-17s both reported a Spanish player for racial abuse in the final of that tournament in 2017 only for Fifa to decide there was no case to answer because of insufficient evidence (in the absence, presumably, of a taped recording, a signed confession and witness statements from every member of the crowd). Thank you for your feedback. Perhaps the most depressing part about what happened in the Podgorica City Stadium is that, by now, those of us who have followed English teams on their foreign excursions have been in this position – expressing outrage, demanding tougher sanctions and all the other noise in this familiar pattern – more times than we can probably remember.Over time what you learn is that it does not get any easier hearing the primitive “ooh-oohing” that assailed Danny Rose, for example, when he was impudent enough to commit a foul, wearing an England shirt, and parts of the Montenegro crowd appeared to have decided the colour of his skin was the bigger offence. At which point it can start to feel like we are all on repeat. We castigate Uefa for being so weak and having such badly blurred priorities – and, worse, for thinking that it does a good job – and we repeat the arguments that now, surely, this is the time the people who run this sport start treating these incidents properly.We are all probably entitled to sound exasperated that the point even needs to be made. Except the deja vu is overwhelming. How many times must the call go in to Uefa HQ? And how many times will the relevant people change nothing? And on and on it goes.If this sounds overly cynical, it is only because Gareth Southgate is the latest in a long line of England managers who has heard his players being racially abused in the name of playing sport. He will not be the last. Though he was certainly the first to admit what many of us had already come to suspect: that his players have completely lost faith in the system, that they cannot trust the relevant authorities and, in some cases, no longer even saw the point in bringing it up. 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