Ben Stokes: Ashley Giles & Chris Silverwood back all-rounder after allegations

Ben Stokes at the PCA awards
Stokes won the PCA award for the first time, with Andrew Flintoff and Brian Lara among the former winners

England's management team has reiterated support for Ben Stokes following allegations of a physical altercation with his wife.

Pictures published on Tuesday appeared to show Stokes with his hand on wife Clare's face at an awards ceremony.

Managing director Ashley Giles said: "I've spoken to both Ben and Clare, for me there was nothing in that incident."

And in his first news conference as coach, Chris Silverwood described Stokes as "a leader within the group".

All-rounder Stokes, 28, was named Professional Cricketers' Association player of the year at the ceremony in London, after playing a pivotal role as England won the World Cup for the first time, then hitting a magnificent unbeaten 135 to win an extraordinary Headingley Test match in the Ashes.

Photographs published on the Guido Fawkes website showed the England player with his hand on his wife's face at the event at the Roundhouse in Camden on 2 October.

Stokes later insisted it was "so far removed from what it was", while his wife wrote on Twitter that "nonsense" allegations had been made into a "crazy story".

Asked about the incident, Giles said at Thursday's news conference: "A picture tells a thousand words, unfortunately they are not always the right ones.

"Ben remains someone who has done a lot for English cricket this year and someone who has turned his life around in two years, so we can continue to support him," Giles told BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.

In August last year, Stokes was found not guilty of affray following a fight near a Bristol nightclub in September 2017.

Of the awards ceremony controversy, Silverwood told Agnew: "Ben and I have got a great relationship and I'm looking forward to working with him moving forward.

"He is a leader within that group and what we have seen this summer has been inspirational."

Earlier this week, when the allegations first surfaced, the England and Wales Cricket Board said it was satisfied there was an "innocent context" to the images.

'Chris has all the great ingredients of being a very good coach'

Meanwhile, Giles insisted that former England bowling coach Silverwood, who led Essex to promotion and then the County Championship, was the right man to replace Australian Trevor Bayliss.

"At some point we have got to break that cycle. When do we give someone from within the opportunity to lead our teams?" Giles said.

"Chris has all the great ingredients of being a very good coach, the turnaround he made at Essex was astonishing."

Giles, who added that Paul Collingwood was close to finalising a permanent move to join the coaching set-up, added: "I think one voice is important at the very top. We will have some very good assistants under Chris who can offer different voices, perspectives and a diversity of thinking but having one guy at the top who takes responsibility is important to me."

'There will certainly be an emphasis on batting time'

Former Yorkshire and Middlesex bowler Silverwood, who played six Tests and seven one-day internationals for England between 1996-2002, said: "The players know where the buck stops and it's important that is the case. You've got one guy that can objectively look at both tournaments (red and white ball) and make sure the right support is around both sets of players.

"I will be stepping back a little bit, there has to be that gap between the players but you still try and maintain being close enough that you can help them and they can come to you."

England's batting has been under scrutiny this year with seven scores of under 200, including 77 in the West Indies, 85 at Lord's against Ireland and 67 in the Ashes against Australia.

Asked whether there would be a more traditional, less attacking approach, he said: "I wouldn't want to call it old fashioned, but there will certainly be an emphasis on batting time and getting the right people in the right places to do that - and from a bowling point of view that relentlessness that we saw from the Australians this summer - can we get that into our bowlers so wherever we are in the world we have an option of getting wickets?"

On the subject of eventually replacing England's leading two Test wicket-takers James Anderson, 37 and Stuart Broad, 33, he added: "I hope it's not too soon because they are fantastic bowlers, but certainly there has got to be some forward planning as to who will take over.

"Getting these messages from us to the county game to make sure the guys have got the skills and when they get to us it's not a surprise is obviously paramount."

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