Ben Stokes touches down in New Zealand
Does Ben Stokes's arrival in New Zealand mean he is a step closer to the Ashes?
What's the story?
It was reported earlier this week that Ben Stokes was headed for New Zealand. The England all-rounder was left out of the initial Ashes squad earlier this month following an altercation in September.
Stokes is set to play for New Zealand domestic side Canterbury, in a bid to regain fitness and spend time with his family. He was born in New Zealand before he moved to England to follow his father's Rugby League coaching career.
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Stokes was arrested in September following a brawl outside of a nightclub in Bristol.
He is yet to be charged by the police but his trip to New Zealand has been given the all clear. Now, speculation is rife as to whether Stokes will join up with the England squad in Australia.
With assault allegations still to be dismissed, he may struggle to obtain an Australian visa. However, when it comes to New Zealand, as he was born there, he would not need documents to play in the country.
His father and mother still live in New Zealand, so the trip will be used for both business and pleasure.
The English Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss has stated that Stokes is not in their plans.
Following the police inquiry, an internal England Cricket Board (ECB) inquiry will take place.
Stokes is likely to face an ECB ban, but it may be backdated to include the games he has already missed for his country.
Word from the England camp suggests that Stokes is not close to joining the Ashes squad. However, things can change quickly and now that he has made the trip to the continent, the possibility should not be dismissed