Ben Stokes and the Ashes dilemma

  • Ben Stokes and the Ashes dilemma

Ben Stokes and the Ashes dilemma

Whether England all-rounder Ben Stokes will return to the squad during the ongoing Ashes Test series against Australia still remains doubtful.

Ben Stokes is not included in the squad for England in the ongoing Ashes Test series.

Ben Stokes is surrounded by media as he arrives at Christchurch Airport on November 29, 2017.

The controversial England allrounder is bound for Christchurch to spend time with parents Gerard and Deb, but is increasingly likely to play Ford Trophy for Canterbury in Rangiora on Sunday.

By being in Christchurch, though, Stokes is only a comparatively short flight away from Australia and could quickly join the England team if police in Britain decides not to press charges after investigating his involvement in an incident outside a nightclub last September.

He's been prevented from playing against Australia until the police matter is addressed, but his travel may fuel speculation he is a chance to line up in the third Test in Perth from December 14.

When pressed about what else he would be doing in New Zealand, he said "work on my golf swing", before adding that he was not sure what club he played junior cricket for in the country.

"England are down on confidence because he's not in the team", he said. "As a player, as a friend".

"I thought England played well at times [at the Gabba] but, certainly, when the wicket quickened up, it played in our favour". No one likes to see what he's been through.

"We've all seen he's been training indoors, but that can only get you so far". We'd have him here with open arms.

"It's good news for the squad".

"Anyone who's performing in domestic cricket is in the mix. Obviously there's still a police investigation going on, so that's completely out of our hands".

Adding to the sense of a team under siege only one game into this five-match series was the midnight curfew reluctantly imposed earlier in the week by director of cricket Andrew Strauss.

He remains unavailable for global selection following his part in a late-night fracas in Bristol, but it has been learned he was granted a no objection certificate four days ago by the European Central Bank to play domestic cricket anywhere he chooses.

There are members of the ECB's board who do not want Stokes anywhere near the Ashes tour, fearing the bad publicity it would attract.

It came as no surprise to either side that Stokes's absence made itself felt at Brisbane, where England's lack of depth with the bat and bite with the ball contributed heavily to their 10-wicket defeat.

"Following the recent speculation surrounding Ben Stokes coming to New Zealand, Canterbury Cricket can now confirm that they have been in initial informal discussions with Ben Stokes' representatives regarding his potential availability", it said in a statement. It's one of the risky periods when teams are far down or in turmoil.