Ben Stokes trial for affray begins at Bristol Crown Court

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The sportsmen had entered the club with the rest of the England cricket team at about 11.30pm on 24 September.

Stokes headed off from Mbargo with Mr Hales about a minute later, after becoming "enraged" when Mr Cunningham refused to shake his hand.

William'O'Connor and Kai Barry, two gay men that Mr Cunningham knew, then emerged from the nightclub and began talking to each other.

Mr Corsellis told the jury: "Mr Cunningham observed Mr Stokes's behaviour towards them".

"It will be interesting to see who can step up and take his place", he said.

"Mr Stokes, notwithstanding his standing or occupation as a professional athlete, also smokes".

A cigarette butt was then flicked at them and Cunningham said he stepped in, before Hales turned to his friend and said, "Stokesy, don't do that".

"Mr Cunningham said to Mr Stokes, "If you want to start on anyone, start on me".

Doorman Andrew Cunningham, 37, told Bristol Crown Court Stokes and teammate Alex Hales attempted to gain entry to the Mbargo nightclub after it closed at 2am.

He then allegedly began "mimicking their voices and mannerisms" in a derogatory way seen by Mr Cunningham.

Film student Max Wilson, who lives on the triangle, woke up from the shouting and said he did not believe the initial shove came from either Mr Stokes or Mr Hales, but Stokes was behaving aggressively. "Well beyond acting in self-defense or defense of another", Corsellis said.

"Mr Stokes's behaviour outside the nightclub sets an important tone for what happened that night", he told the jury of six men and six women.

"He was clearly frustrated and annoyed".

"They (Mr O'Connor and Mr Barry) just stood back".

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CCTV footage showed Ali and Hale leaving the club at 2.23am and speaking to Mr Barry and Mr O'Connor before they all walked towards Queens Road.

"Equally, Mr Ali has worked for the emergency services and Mr Hale has served his country in the armed forces".

Stokes is accused of knocking out both Hale and Ali during the altercation but claims he was acting in self-defence.

Ali's eye socket was fractured by Stokes and Hale was also hospitalized with a cut to his forehead, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said in his opening statement. "It was a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked", Corsellis said.

Prosecutors allege that trouble flared after Stokes and Hales caught up with Ali, Hale, O'Connor and Barry on a nearby street.

"It is with regret that these defendants are before you, for they are all young men of promise".

A huge media contingent greets the arrival of Ben Stokes.

"A bottle was used at the beginning by Mr Ali and a broken street sign brought into the fray towards the end by Mr Hale".

"It nearly goes without saying, but past success, fame or good deeds does not absolve you from your duty - and the law - to behave yourself".

The trial before Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, is expected to last between five and seven days in courtroom one.

Mr Corsellis said Stokes mouthed something to Mr Hales and appeared to wink at him from the police auto.

Stokes missed quite a lot of England's matches previous year due to the incident.

Without him, England lost the series against Australia 4-0.

In one sense England needs Stokes more than he needs them, as he is among the first generation who can play Twenty20 tournaments rather than Tests to enjoy a lucrative career.

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