Speculation of sensational Ashes call-up grows as Ben Stokes lands in New Zealand

England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who’s involvement in a late-night brawl outside a pub in Bristol is currently being investigated by the British police landed in New Zealand on Wednesday. Stokes was seen carrying a kit bag full of cricket gear, but he joked that he was in New Zealand to work on his “golf swing”, amid growing speculation that a dramatic call-up for the Ashes was a possibility.

The all-rounder did not reveal much about the purpose of his trip to Christchurch, but he is expected to play first-class cricket for Canterbury in New Zealand’s domestic one day international competition. Stokes’ parents also live in the south island city, which he left at the age of 12. “It’s been that long since I’ve been back here, I’m 26 now,” Stokes said upon landing.

It is possible that Stokes could turn out for Canterbury as early as Sunday, December 3rd. His cricketing ban does not apply to first-class cricket, and his stint with Canterbury is seen as an attempt to stay match-fit if he does receive a call-up to the Test side and has to travel to Australia for the Ashes. His involvement would definitely give England a boost, who are reeling from a 10 wicket defeat in the first Test in Brisbane. Britain’s The Telegraph revealed that the ECB had plans to fast-track Stokes back to the team in 48 hours if the police decided to give him the clean chit over the incident in Bristol.

However, his immediate future with Canterbury will be discussed at a board meeting on Wednesday night, with Canterbury coach Gary Stead telling Australia’s RSN Radio, “The Ashes hasn’t been discussed whatsoever… There’s still a bit of water to go under the bridge. I hope from a coaching point of view we can make this work. We’ve got a pretty young team here and to play alongside a premium world-class allrounder would be great for them.”

Born in New Zealand, Stokes moved to England when his father Gerard, a former Rugby league international got a coaching role back home. His parents have since moved back to Christchurch while Stokes continued to pursue a career in cricket in England.

The ECB had stressed that Stokes is currently on a private trip, one which has not been organized or facilitated by the board.

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