A gay couple have heaped praise upon England all-rounder Ben Stokes for defending them in a street brawl last September.
The 27-year-old was yesterday found not guilty of affray following the incident outside a Bristol nightclub in which he was accused of attacking two men.
During the trial, Stokes was alleged to have mocked the two gay men outside the nightclub before fighting with two other men, one of whom he is said to have knocked to the ground.
Stokes insisted that he had attacked the two men in defence of the gay couple, and in an interview with The Sun today, the pair - Kai Barry and William O'Connor - verified the cricketer's version of events.
"We were attacked only because we were gay. Ben was heroic — thank you Ben," Barry told the newspaper. "We are convinced we would have been beaten up if it wasn't for Ben. He stood up for us.
"I got bottled and Ben jumped in to defend me. The prosecution said he was homophobic, but we never saw any of that. If he didn't like me, or didn't worry about me or was taunting me, then he wouldn't have stuck up for me in the first place.
"We're delighted that he's been cleared. He risked his career for us. We didn't want Ben's career ruined for helping two people who were being attacked."
O'Connor added: "From what we experienced, Ben Stokes is not the nasty or homophobic person he was painted as in court. He stood up for two gay boys. We were just having banter outside the club. Ben was messing around making gestures, but I have banter with my friends like that."
The pair also claimed that they were not asked to give evidence during the week-long trial.