Stokes 'not Australia-bound' after picture suggests Ashes call

Ben Stokes On His Way To New Zealand

Ashes 2017: Ben Stokes on way to New Zealand and in talks with Canterbury after 'England call-up' frenzy

There were already indications from the European Central Bank that Stokes will be free to play for the Kings against Otago Volts in the Ford Trophy 50-over competition on Sunday, by the time his prospective New Zealand employers issued a statement confirming "initial informal discussions".

Canterbury cricket club are in talks with Ben Stokes' representatives over his availability to play domestic cricket in New Zealand.

Why is Stokes on his way to New Zealand?

The 26-year-old was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm following a disturbance outside a nightclub in the city on September 25.

Canterbury coach Gary Stead said Stokes' possible involvement or not in the Ashes "hasn't been discussed whatsoever".

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Canterbury Cricket chief executive Jez Curwin didn't rule it out as a possibility, telling reporters "we'd be delighted to have him come and play for us if we ever got to that stage".

The all-rounder wasn't included in England's Ashes squad due to an ongoing police investigation.

Stokes and Alex Hales, who was also involved in the Bristol incident, have been suspended from England selection until further notice. "His travel arrangements have not been arranged by the European Central Bank", a statement read.

After pictures of Stokes at Heathrow airport prompted speculation that the suspended all-rounder could be returning to England for the Ashes in Australia, it was confirmed that he was instead flying to New Zealand. He has not played cricket since then, and the European Central Bank has confirmed Stokes will not join the Ashes tour until the police investigation is complete.

Stokes sent a good luck message to the England squad just hours before they began their Ashes campaign in Brisbane, where Australia cruised to a 10-wicket victory in the first Test on Monday.

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