How Anderson became the world's best – and is he getting better?

James Anderson has played 143 Tests, a record for a pace bowler

England’s James Anderson is now the most successful pace bowler in Test history.

Fifteen years on from his Test debut, Anderson’s five wickets against India at The Oval took him past Australia great Glenn McGrath and on to 564 wickets.

So how has the man nicknamed the ‘Burnley Express’ got there? BBC Sport breaks down the numbers.

From debutant to record-breaker


James Anderson’s changing teammates


Image of James Anderson in England squad photo in 2018


Image of James Anderson's first England squad photo

Anderson made his debut as a 20-year-old against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in 2003.

His first over in Test cricket cost 17 runs but in his third he bowled opener Mark Vermeulen.

He finished the innings with 5-73, the first of 26 five-wicket hauls in his Test career.

Anderson now has 564 Test wickets to his name, meaning only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have taken more.

Anderson’s bunnies

Of those 564 wickets, some batsmen feature more than others.

Anderson has dismissed Peter Siddle 11 times – the most he has taken any player’s wicket – but the ex-Australia bowler is in good company.

India’s Sachin Tendulkar may have scored a record 15,921 Test runs, but he was dismissed nine times in 14 matches by Anderson.

Anderson has played a significant part in four Ashes series wins for England – and a few big-name Australians have also found things difficult…

Modes of dismissal

It’s an image we have seen so many times. A full, inviting delivery from Anderson, late swing and an outside edge.

More than a third of his Test wickets have come courtesy of catches by a fielder, with caught by the wicketkeeper the next most common dismissal, and then bowled.

Former England keeper Matt Prior has taken more catches off Anderson than any other bowler in Tests.

The pair combined 68 times, with current England keeper Jonny Bairstow next on the list.

Alastair Cook, who has fielded at first slip for much of Anderson’s career, is the highest non-wicketkeeper in terms of catches off Anderson’s bowling with 40.

Wickets by opponent

Anderson loves bowling against India.

He has taken more wickets against them than any other team – 110 in 27 matches. More than three-quarters of those have come in England.

Australia feature prominently here again too. Anderson has taken five five-wicket hauls in Ashes series and was the leading wicket-taker in the 2010-11 series when England won down under for the first time in 24 years.

Simon Hughes, The Analyst

Indian players are probably the worst at adapting to seaming conditions.

They are not used to the ball swinging or seaming much and Anderson examines their tendency to drive at balls that are not quite full enough with the bat face open. Often these shots slide off the face of the bat and are caught in the slip cordon.

Also, because they were the last to agree to use the decision review system (DRS), their techniques are a little more fragile.

Home comforts

Like most bowlers, Anderson has a better record at home than away.

He has taken 368 of his 564 wickets in England with a bowling average – the number of runs conceded per wicket taken – of 23.76. Overseas his average climbs to 32.63.

In England – where the Dukes ball tends to move more through the air than the Kookaburra used in Australia – Anderson is often able to take advantage of swinging conditions.

Simon Hughes, The Analyst

Anderson’s first overseas tours were poor. For example, he had no skills to fall back on in Australia or India other than swinging the ball conventionally.

His ability to master the ‘wobble seam’ delivery – which he used superbly in Australia in 2010-11 – and utilise reverse swing, which won the Kolkata Test in 2012, has markedly improved his performances abroad.

His superior control has brought his average down. Still, he accepts his overseas record is not as good as it should be and says he is still up for the challenge of improving it in Sri Lanka and West Indies this winter.

At home at the ‘Home of Cricket’

Anderson has taken more wickets than any other player at Lord’s.

His 103 wickets have come in only 23 matches at the ground and include career-best figures of 7-42 against West Indies in 2017.

Simon Hughes, The Analyst

Anderson is a brilliant exploiter of the slopes and angles at Lord’s. He loves starting his bowling at the Pavilion End, where he can both swing his outswinger against the slope but also use the slope to bring the ball back into the batsmen, making them play more balls than they need to.

When the ball is older, he likes the slope of the Nursery End to take it away from the right-hander. As Glenn McGrath did, Anderson brilliantly utilises the advantages that the unusual Lord’s geography offers. Plus, the lush outfield helps the ball keeps its shine.

Mr Reliable

Anderson has been the go-to bowler for many England captains throughout his career and one clear strength has been his remarkable consistency.

Whatever the stage of the match, the seamer has been able to take wickets. His bowling average across all four innings is remarkably similar…

Improving control?

When selected, Anderson has been a consistent wicket-taker throughout his England career, ever since his five wickets in his first innings.

But over time he has seen his economy rate – the average runs conceded in an over – drop significantly as he has become a more accurate, miserly bowler.

He now concedes about two runs less per over than when he was most expensive in the early stage of his career.

Still getting better?

This is a worrying sight for Anderson’s opponents: he seems to be improving with age.

His bowling average has been lower in the past two years than at any point in his career. There may well be more wickets to come…

Simon Hughes, the Analyst

I divide Anderson’s Test career into four phases:

1. Arrival. He burst on to the scene charging in to bowl his swingers, taking wickets but also going for plenty of runs as he tended to strive too often for the unplayable delivery and bowled a lot of hittable half-volleys.

2. Disruption. Soon after he made it into the England team there was a general obsession with pace – it came mainly from then head coach Duncan Fletcher – and there was an attempt to lengthen and straighten Anderson’s run-up and change his action slightly. He lost his natural outswing for a while, got into trouble for running on the pitch and was generally expensive, going at about four runs an over.

3. Graduation. By about 2010 he had reverted to his original run-up, rediscovered his natural skill and fine-tuned it to become a consistent wicket-taker, excelling at home and spearheading England’s climb to become the number one Test team in the world.

4. Sophistication. Since being spared playing one-day cricket, he has been able to save his precious skills for the Test format. With fitness and expertise, he has evolved into a supreme wicket-taking machine, adept in all conditions, using subtle variations to command great respect from all the world’s batsmen to become the most successful Test seam bowler of all time.

Can you name the batsmen James Anderson has dismissed more than five times in Tests?

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Cricket legend Imran Khan confirmed as Pakistan PM

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Media captionFive things to know about Imran Khan

Former cricket star Imran Khan has been elected prime minister of Pakistan in a vote at the country’s National Assembly.

His PTI party won the most seats in July’s elections – setting up Mr Khan to become PM with the help of small parties, more than two decades after he first entered politics.

He will be sworn in on Saturday.

Mr Khan, 65, will inherit a country with a mounting economic crisis and he has vowed to create a “new Pakistan”.

The charismatic sports star, who captained Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992, has long shed his celebrity playboy image and now styles himself as a pious, populist, anti-poverty reformer.

He ran on an anti-corruption platform that pledged to improve the lives of the country’s poor with an “Islamic welfare state”.

In Friday’s vote, Mr Khan was backed by 176 members. His opponent, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif, received 96 votes.

Speaking after the results, the prime minister-elect vowed to bring about the “change that this nation was longing for”, according to local media.

He promised “strict accountability” for those who had “looted this country”.

“I did not climb on any dictator’s shoulders; I reached this place after struggling for 22 years.”

Opposition parties have claimed elements of last month’s elections were rigged. Despite this, they agreed to take their seats in the assembly.

In the lead-up to the election, Mr Khan was widely seen as the favoured candidate of the powerful military, which was accused of meddling against his rivals.

Applause and angry chants

Analysis by Secunder Kermani, BBC News, Islamabad

The announcement that parliament had chosen Imran Khan as the next prime minister was greeted by applause from his party, and angry chants from his rivals, the outgoing PML-N.

When it first became clear that the PTI had won the elections last month, Mr Khan addressed the nation in a conciliatory tone. Today he was more fiery.

He repeatedly rejected opposition claims that the vote was rigged and offered to investigate the allegations.

He challenged the opposition to hold a sit-in against him, telling them he would even provide them food and shipping containers to block roads.

Mr Khan faces real challenges, including a mounting economic crisis, but his supporters have high expectations of what he can deliver in terms of creating jobs, and improving healthcare and education. He promised to create a “new Pakistan”, now he will have to show the country what that looks like.

Before the election Mr Khan told the BBC that if he were to be elected, his initial focus would be on the economy. Pakistan’s currency, the rupee, has declined significantly in the last year. Inflation is on the rise and the trade deficit is widening.

Exports such as textiles have taken a hit from cheaper products by regional competitors, including China. Analysts say the new government may need to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the country’s second bailout since 2013, which could complicate efforts to boost welfare.

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Media captionWhat do Pakistani women want from PM Imran Khan?

After the 25 July election, Mr Khan also vowed to hold talks with India to seek a resolution to the dispute over the Kashmir region, a key flashpoint between the nuclear-armed countries.

He also called for “mutually beneficial” ties with the United States, despite being an outspoken critic of that country’s anti-terrorism measures in the region, such as drone strikes. President Donald Trump recently cut aid to Pakistan, accusing it of providing a “safe haven” to terrorists active in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan, a country with a population of nearly 200 million, has been ruled on and off by the military during its 71-year history.

Whether as a result of coups or corruption allegations, no prime minister in its history has ever successfully completed a term in office.

Three-time PM Nawaz Sharif was ousted from office in 2017 over corruption allegations.

He was jailed in the lead-up to the vote, and his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, led the PML-N party into the election.

After the election, three major opposition parties banded together to nominate Shahbaz Sharif as a joint candidate in a bid to thwart Mr Khan.

However, one of the parties – the PPP party of assassinated ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto – is reported to have withdrawn its support for Mr Sharif in the run-up to the vote and abstained on Friday.

England's Stokes not guilty of affray

Ben Stokes

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AFP/Getty Images

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Ben Stokes’ defence barrister told the jury he had acted “to defend himself or in defence of another”

England cricketer Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray after a fight near a Bristol nightclub.

The Durham all-rounder, 27, denied the charge following the fracas between a group of men last September.

His lawyer Paul Lunt said it was “the end of an 11-month ordeal” for Mr Stokes, who was “keen to get back to cricket being his sole focus”.

Ryan Ali, 28 – who was knocked unconscious in the brawl – was also found not guilty of the same charge.

The fight happened several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies at the County Ground in the city.

Mr Stokes and Mr Ali shook hands on leaving the dock.

His wife, Clare Stokes, cried when the not guilty verdicts were returned while her husband closed his eyes with relief and then looked up.

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Ryan Ali has been cleared of affray

During the six-day trial, Bristol Crown Court heard the incident described as “a sustained episode of significant violence” from Mr Stokes – of Castle Eden in Durham – who had “lost control”.

The prosecution said he was “drunk and enraged” after being refused entry back into Mbargo nightclub at 02:00 BST on 25 September.

But Mr Stokes told the jury he had “stepped in” to defend two gay men who were being verbally abused, and then had to defend himself from Mr Ali – of Forest Road in Bristol – and Ryan Hale, 27, who were threatening violence.

Mr Hale, of Burghill Road in Westbury-on-Trym, was acquitted of the same charge last week.

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Media captionHow events unfolded the night Ben Stokes was arrested

Mr Ali, who works for the emergency services, suffered a fractured eye socket in the brawl while Mr Hale, a former soldier, was left with concussion.

As Mr Ali left court, smiling, he told BBC Sport editor Dan Roan he was “relieved it’s all over” and said he had no further comment to make.

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Media captionBen Stokes’ lawyer, Paul Lunt, said the jury’s decision fairly reflected the truth of what happened in Bristol that night.

Outside court, two cricket fans from Bristol – who were part of the crowd awaiting the outcome – said they were pleased with the verdict.

Arthur Davis, 30, said: “He’s a great player although not in form and maybe this will change that.”

And Javen Rahiman, 26, said: “I’m pretty pleased but it’s not the best example he’s setting, especially as the evening of the fight was after such a good victory.

“I hope it’s a kick up the backside for him and he can focus more on the game now with no distractions.”

After the verdict the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Mr Stokes would be added to England’s squad for the third Test against India.

The BBC’s cricket correspondent, Jonathan Agnew, said Mr Stokes would now face an ECB independent disciplinary committee, likely charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

On the first day of the trial, the prosecution team applied for Mr Stokes to be charged with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, a lesser charge, but this was rejected by Judge Peter Blair QC.

What is affray? Analysis from Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent

Under the Public Order Act 1986, ‘a person is guilty of affray if he uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and his conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety’.

So, though it may seem odd, the offence is not designed simply to protect those involved in the violent incident itself: it is also designed to protect other people who are present.

That could include, for example, passers by in a street, those drinking in a pub, or fans at a football game when violence is threatened or actually occurs.

However, the ‘person of reasonable firmness’ need not actually be present at the scene.

This person is sometimes known as the ‘hypothetical bystander’ and it is he or she rather than the victim, who must fear for his or her personal safety.

There must be a ‘victim’ present against whom the violence is to be directed, and some conduct, beyond the use of words, which is threatening and directed towards a person or people.

Stokes 'lied about self-defence'

Ben Stokes

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Ben Stokes, who denies affray, is alleged to have knocked a man out outside a Bristol club

England cricketer Ben Stokes lied when he said he acted in self-defence during a fight outside a nightclub, a court has heard.

The Durham all-rounder, 27, denies affray at Bristol Crown Court.

Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said Mr Stokes “acted deplorably as the red mist came down” – something his defence team labelled as “nonsense”.

The cricketer is on trial alongside Ryan Ali, 28, whom he is alleged to have knocked out outside Mbargo.

Mr Ali has also denied affray while Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted of the same charge last Thursday.

Giving his closing speech, Mr Corsellis told the jury Mr Stokes acted “to defend himself or in defence of another” when Mr Ali had a bottle in his hand, but then “quickly turned aggressor”.

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Ryan Ali has also denied a charge of affray

“Even if Mr Stokes has begun using self-defence, he very, very quickly after this became the aggressor, with Mr Hale trying to pacify him together with Mr Ali,” Mr Corsellis said.

“He was pursuing them into the road, repeatedly punching at them at least six times, with his teammate Alex Hales calling him away ‘Stokes… Stokes… stop… stop…’.

“If Mr Stokes was being tried alone, we submit that his behaviour would constitute an affray.

“It is plain Mr Stokes is lying.”

Mr Corsellis added that Mr Stokes “acted deplorably as the red mist came down and struck with such force that he rendered one person unconscious”.

‘Complete nonsense’

During his closing speech, Mr Stokes’s barrister Gordon Cole QC said it was “complete nonsense” for the prosecution to say the cricketer was “drunk and enraged”.

He said CCTV footage from just before the fight showed he was “not behaving in a drunk way”.

He added that footage recorded by film student Max Wilson “clearly shows Ryan Ali going at Alex Hales with a bottle”.

“You can see where Ben Stokes is, he’s not rushing at anybody, he’s not charging into the fray.”

‘Special treatment’

Mr Cole said there had been a “great deal of rowing back” by the prosecution since the trial began.

“Is this man [Mr Stokes] getting special treatment because of who he is?” Mr Cole asked.

Last week, giving evidence, the cricketer said he “stepped in” to defend two gay men before the fight in Bristol on 25 September last year.

During her closing speech, Mr Ali’s defence barrister Anna Midgley said there had been nothing to show her client had suddenly lost it “from a calm gentleman to a total personality change”.

“His demeanour generally, and on the footage that we’ve seen, does not show an aggressive, homophobic person,” she said.

Mr Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, was arrested in the early hours along with Mr Ali, of Bristol, and Mr Hale, of Westbury-on-Trym.

The fight took place several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies at the city’s County Ground.

The trial continues.

Stokes admits to 'throwing several punches'

Ben Stokes

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Ben Stokes denies affray in a trial at Bristol Crown Court

England cricketer Ben Stokes admitted throwing several punches at a man outside a nightclub in Bristol, a jury has heard.

The Durham all-rounder, who denies affray, has taken to the stand for a second day at Bristol Crown Court.

Mr Stokes, 27, said: “It’s clear in my statements that I admit to throwing multiple punches.”

He is on trial alongside Ryan Ali, 28, who the cricketer is alleged to have knocked out, outside the Mbargo club.

Mr Ali has also denied a charge of affray while Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted of the same charge on Thursday.

Mr Stokes told the court he felt “constantly under threat” by Mr Ali and Mr Hale who he claims made homophobic slurs to two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor.

But when questioned by the prosecution, he admitted “slapping” but not knocking out Mr Ali or being very drunk.

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Media captionFootage from the arresting officer’s bodycam was shown to the jury at Mr Stokes’ trial

He agreed he had had at least 10 drinks, including pints of beer, vodka and lemonade as well as “a few” Jagerbombs, which are shots usually mixed with energy drinks.

Under cross-examination by Mr Ali’s defence counsel, he was questioned whether he had misheard what was being said.

But, he maintained Mr Ali and Mr Hale made homophobic comments outside the club in the Clifton triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of 25 September last year.

Mr Stokes told the jury he was not “threatening or aggressive” towards the men.

“I’d say I was verbally saying ‘I don’t think you should be saying that to these two guys because they’re gay’,” he said.

He also said he could not remember the specific homophobic words used.

“As I’ve said I can’t recollect anything specific, but I’m very clear the words used were a homophobic nature.”

As the prosecution began its cross-examination of the cricketer, the jury was shown CCTV pictures from outside Mbargo, where he was denied entry.

‘Effeminate nature’

Mr Stokes admitted trying to bribe doorman Andrew Cunningham with £60 to get in, but denied it was as much as £300.

He also denied being spiteful and aggressive or making derogatory marks about the doorman’s tattoos or throwing a cigarette in his direction when he was refused entry.

The court heard Mr Cunningham perceived Mr Stokes as “mocking” the gay men’s mannerisms” and mimicking “their voices and effeminate nature”, which the defendant refuted.

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Avon and Somerset Police

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The jury was shown CCTV footage apparently showing the men involved – including Ben Stokes – in a fight in the street

Mr Stokes also denied being angry about not being allowed back into the club, where he was with fellow England player Alex Hales.

The court heard Mr Stokes had first played with Mr Hales in 2011, prompting prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis to suggest “you’d recognise his voice would you not?”. The defendant agreed he would.

But when Mr Corsellis asked whether he heard Mr Hales call out to him, “Stokes stop, Stokes no…”, during the incident, he said he did not.

“Did you not appreciate that the person who grabbed you by the arm was Alex Hales? Do you not remember he tried to grab you?,” said Mr Corsellis, to which Mr Stokes said “no.”

The cricketer also denied feeling enraged when his friend, Mr Hales was “ran at with a glass bottle” by Mr Ali.

Mr Stokes replied: “Throughout this whole incident my whole focus was where Mr Ali was and where Mr Hale was, from the moment I was verbally threatened and my friend Alex was run at with a glass bottle.”

At Bristol Crown Court

Chris Sandys, BBC News

Ben Stokes’s attire, demeanour, speech and poise have all remained the same throughout several hours of giving evidence.

Most of the time he remains standing, with the occasional request to sit which eases the back pain he is apparently suffering with.

Many of his responses have been short and mostly themed around having little memory of the night he is being quizzed over.

Prosecuting, Mr Corsellis asked: “Were you enraged?”.

“No, at this time my sole focus was to protect myself,” Mr Stokes replied.

He was then asked by the prosecution whether he tried to retaliate against Mr Ali after being disarmed by him, which he denied.

Mr Corsellis asked: “Is it what we see on the footage – an angry man who has lost all control?”

Stokes replied: “Absolutely not.”

The trial continues.

Stokes denies homophobic comments

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Media captionFootage from the arresting officer’s bodycam has been shown to the jury at Mr Stokes’ trial.

England cricketer Ben Stokes told a court he “stepped in” to defend two gay men before an alleged brawl.

The Durham all-rounder is one of two men accused of fighting outside a Bristol nightclub on 25 September.

Mr Stokes, 27, denies affray and says he acted in self defence. He said he had drunk up to three pints and six vodka and lemonades but was not drunk.

Ryan Ali, 28, has also denied affray while Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted at Bristol Crown Court of affray earlier.

Giving evidence for the first time, Mr Stokes told the court he intervened when he heard Mr Hale and Mr Ali “shouting homophobic comments” at two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor.

He told the jury: “I stepped in and said ‘you shouldn’t be saying these things to these two men’.”

‘Knocked unconscious’

The prosecution has accused Mr Stokes of mimicking the voices and mannerisms of Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor in what was described as “a derogatory way”.

Mr Stokes was asked by his barrister Gordon Cole QC if any of his actions towards the two gay men outside Mbargo nightclub were homophobic.

The cricketer told the court: “Definitely not. The only comments between myself and this gay couple was about what we was wearing that night.”

Prosecutors previously told the court Mr Ali, who they say had been holding a glass beer bottle, and Mr Hale were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes.

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Julia Quenzler

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Ben Stokes has begun giving evidence in his defence in court

When asked what was “the first action in any violence” Mr Stokes replied: “Mr Ali turning the bottle he had. He took the neck of the bottle.”

Mr Stokes said he had been “protecting himself” and the people around him when he got involved in the fight.

He said: “I took the decision for what I did very quickly. As soon as this episode started I knew not just myself but other people could be a target of these two men.

He added: “As soon as I decided to get involved, everything I did was under self-defence. I did what I could to keep myself and those around me safe.”

When asked if he had become “enraged” at any point during the incident, Mr Stokes replied it was a “difficult question to answer”.

The 6ft 2in tall sportsman added: “I didn’t know they could be carrying more weapons on them.

“They could decide to attack me at any time if I was to turn my back on either of these two.

“At all times I felt under threat from these two.”

Mr Stokes, who was dressed in court in a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, said that after a win against the West Indies he had celebrated at the ground then had two or three pints with a meal.

After the meal, Mr Stokes and some of his England teammates went to Mbargo, where they drank five or six vodka and lemonades.

‘Nothing unusual’

Mr Cole asked: “Were you drunk?” “No,” Mr Stokes replied.

The cricketer said a large group then decided to go to the Pryzm nightclub instead.

Mr Cole showed the jury a photograph of Mr Stokes and teammates James Anderson, Jake Ball and Alex Hales taken outside Pryzm.

He then returned to Mbargo in a taxi with Mr Hales.

Mr Stokes said there was nothing unusual in how he had behaved in his dealings with nightclub doorman Andrew Cunningham.

When asked by Mr Cole if he had become enraged at some point, Mr Stokes said: “No.”

He also said he did not remember flicking his cigarette at the gay couple outside the club.

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Ryan Hale has been found not guilty of affray

The court heard earlier that former soldier Mr Hale told police in a formal interview he believed Mr Stokes could have killed him.

He added: “I’m a dad. He could have killed me. I don’t know why he didn’t stop.”

Mr Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, and Mr Ali, of Bristol, both deny a joint charge of affray.

The trial continues.