England all-rounder Ben Stokes headed for New Zealand, not Ashes

Ben Stokes On His Way To New Zealand

Speculation about the all-rounder's plans were raised by a picture on social media which appeared to show him at Heathrow Airport.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the former worldwide was making a private trip to spend time with his family, but Canterbury have confirmed that they've entered into informal negotiations with the 26-year-old.

Ben Stokes could return to cricket as soon as this weekend, with his representatives discussing a potential deal with New Zealand's Canterbury Cricket Club.

Stokes, who was born in New Zealand, was given permission to travel on Friday.

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

Ben Stokes is not on his way to join England's Ashes squad in Australia, Press Association Sport understands.

Canterbury Cricket have been approached for comment but have not responded to RNZ's requests.

Ben Stokes On His Way To New Zealand
Ashes: Ben Stokes would be welcomed back to England "with open arms", says Chris Woakes

"He is not on his way to the Ashes, England Lions or any other official training camps with the English setup". "His travel arrangements have not been arranged by the European Central Bank".

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

If he does play, it will mark the New Zealand-born cricketer's first competitive game since England's one-day global against the West Indies on September 24.

He is still awaiting the outcome of the police investigation.

On Stokes' prospects of playing any part in the Ashes, Strauss added: "We're waiting for the police to make a charging decision and, until that happens, nothing has changed".

So far, he has missed three tour matches and a first-Test defeat in Brisbane by 10 wickets - during which the consequences of his absence for Joe Root's tourists were painfully plain to see.

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