Stokes cuts short NZ stay to return to England

Ben Stokes (Getty)
Ben Stokes (Getty)

Christchurch - England all-rounder Ben Stokes has ended his brief New Zealand cameo and is returning to the England "for family reasons", Canterbury cricket officials confirmed on Saturday.

Stokes has been playing for Canterbury, his New Zealand birth province, for the past month while waiting to learn if he would be cleared to join the England side in the Ashes series in Australia.

In a brief statement, Canterbury Cricket chief executive Jez Curwin said Stokes was leaving for "family reasons", with his wife and young family back in England.

"Ben has been great around the club, the team and the staff. We can't fault his attitude or his all-round contribution in his time with us and we are sorry that he couldn't stay with us for longer," Curwin said.

The 26-year-old Stokes has been banned from international duties while police investigate his alleged role in a fight outside a nightclub in Bristol three months ago.

Curwin told Fairfax media that Stokes' departure had "nothing to do with the legal situation.

"Christmas time, he's a long way from home and he's been through a lot. And the reality is he wants to spend Christmas with his wife and two kids, who miss him a huge amount."

Stokes has been provisionally named in England's one-day international squad to play Australia next month, depending on his legal situation, but in the Canterbury Cricket statement he did not refer to his playing prospects.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed training and playing with Canterbury. Everyone here has gone out of their way to make me feel at home. It's a wonderful club and I couldn't have asked for any more from my time here" he said.

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