New Zealand-born England cricket star Ben Stokes is a target for media as he arrives in Christchurch on Wednesday.
New Zealand-born England cricket star Ben Stokes is a target for media as he arrives in Christchurch on Wednesday. Mark Baker

Stokes gets the OK to play in NZ

BANNED English all-rounder Ben Stokes has been signed by New Zealand provincial side Canterbury and could play for the Kings as soon as tomorrow.

That news came despite confirmation UK police had passed on a case file to the Crown Prosecutor seeking advice on whether to lay charges against Stokes over a street fight in Bristol on September 25.

Stokes remains suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board until the police investigation runs its course, but the ECB gave the all-rounder a "no objection certificate” before he flew to Christchurch earlier this week.

Canterbury coach Gary Stead said everything had happened quickly but the club was "delighted” to welcome Stokes, who was born in NZ, into the team.

"Ben will bring international experience to what is a relatively youthful changing room,” Stead said.

"He will also bring depth to our seam attack, which has been affected by a string of injuries, and provide more balance and firepower to our batting line-up.

"While Ben awaits the outcome of an investigation under way in the UK, he wants to maintain his fitness and his connection with the game.”

Stokes arrived in NZ on Wednesday. He is unavailable for selection to represent England while he awaits the outcome of the police investigation into the September incident.

Canterbury Cricket CEO Jez Curwin gave clarity on the organisation's position on players' eligibility, after the club recently stood down another player who was also facing an assault charge.

"While it would be easy to draw direct comparisons between the position taken recently with another player, we have to reiterate that in that situation the player was free to play until such time as he pleaded guilty to the charges,” he said.

"We believe Ben has the right to be treated the same way as other players.”

- Russell Gould



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