CRICKETER Joe Clarke has had a charge of affray against him dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service on the eve of a scheduled crown court appearance.

Nottinghamshire top-order batter Clarke, who has represented the England Lions, was charged with affray, along with four others, after they were accused of being involved in a brawl in Powys during the Covid-19 lockdown last summer.

All five were charged with affray in connection with a single alleged incident in Four Crosses, near Welshpool, on July 5, 2020.

Clarke, 25, appeared at Welshpool Magistrates' Court last month along with Oliver James Clarke, 30, Richard Xavier Clarke, 20, and Robert Clarke, 26, all of Underhill Farm, Trefonen, plus Tim Parker, 25, of Tennyson Avenue, Clevedon, North Somerset.

The men indicated not guilty pleas and were granted unconditional bail prior to the direction hearing, which was scheduled to be heard in Mold Crown Court on Friday, July 16.

The CPS confirmed the case against all five defendants had been dismissed. A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to continuously review all our cases. During the latest review we concluded that there was no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction. Consequently, the case was discontinued.”

Shrewsbury-born Clarke, who attended Llanfyllin High School, maintained his innocence throughout. His management company released a statement saying the charges against him had been dropped.

“A number of media outlets reported that, following an incident in July last year, Joe Clarke had been charged with affray,” a statement released by Phoenix, the management company that look after his interests, said.

“Joe maintained his innocence throughout and cooperated fully with police in providing an account of the incident. Appearing before Welshpool Magistrates Court in June, Joe entered a not-guilty plea.

“We are pleased to advise that after a review of the evidence conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service following Joe's first appearance, they have concluded that there was insufficient evidence and the case against Joe has been formally discontinued.”

Clarke received a call-up to the England Lions second-tier international team in 2017, but was withdrawn from the squad in 2019.

Clarke is regarded as arguably England's best uncapped T20 player. He is averaging more than 35 with a strike rate of almost 200 in this year's Vitality Blast and, had the case not been hanging over him, could have been pressing for inclusion in England's limited-overs squad.