England all-rounder Ben Stokes has expressed how he has "changed the way he does things" in the aftermath of an incident in Bristol, insisting that he wants to be remembered for his exploits on the cricket field.
Stokes, speaking to The Daily Mirror, commented on lifestyle alterations he has made since he was cleared of affray charges by a Bristol Crown Court in August last year, following a late-night brawl in September 2017, and was forced to miss numerous crucial England series through suspension.
"I was that close to my career ending and being thrown away just like that," he said. "That might be the thing that has changed the way I do things."
Although Stokes maintains that he still enjoys celebrating with his team-mates, he also said that compromises have had to be made, and he has adapted to the nature of being a 'target' in the public eye. "I still go out, but if you mean going 'out out', I don't go 'out out' any more," he said. "I used to love going out and celebrating with the lads, but we can do that in the hotel and I don't miss it."
"There are people ready to target you everywhere you go. I prefer sitting in and chatting absolute nonsense with my teammates."
The expectation and role-model status of being a global sporting star is something Stokes has acknowledged. "You're an international sportsman and people see you do that, I totally understand it and it is hugely regrettable."
In the lead up to the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup in May, the 27-year old said that he was keen to improve his reputation by helping England win the tournament on home soil. He has 79 ODI caps to his name, having made his debut in the format back in 2011. "I don't want to be remembered as the guy who had a fight in the street", he said. "I want to do things on the field to be remembered for."
“If we win the World Cup, that becomes the first paragraph."
Stokes and England will take on Pakistan in a five-match ODI series prior to the tournament, commencing on May 5.