Ben Stokes is expected to play for Canterbury in New Zealand’s Ford Trophy on Sunday, Press Association Sport understands.
The Canterbury Cricket Association (CCA) confirmed officials have had “informal” talks with the all-rounder’s representatives about his “potential ability” to play in the domestic competition, as well as the Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 tournament.
Fevered speculation broke out that the all-rounder was on his way to join the Ashes squad, after a picture shared on social media appeared to show him at Heathrow Airport on Monday.
However, it is understood Stokes will, in fact, play for Canterbury against Otago Volts in the 50-over competition this weekend.
Canterbury have further games scheduled during the Ashes, against Auckland on December 5 and the Northern District Knights on December 9, while the Super Smash runs from December to January.
New Zealand-born Stokes, 26, will require a No Objection Certificate from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to compete, although Press Association Sport understands he will be granted the chit.
Stokes was initially named in England’s 16-man squad to tour Australia but was quickly stood down from international duty following his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol in September.
He has yet to hear whether he will be charged by Avon and Somerset Police.
Stokes and Alex Hales, who was also involved in the Bristol incident, have been suspended from England selection until further notice.
However, it is understood that after being arrested and then released “under investigation”, Stokes is free to travel and leave the country.
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.
“I’ll be sat at home watching and following the lads in the hope they do really well,” Stokes said in a video.
In an apparent reference to Monday’s social media frenzy sparked by his sighting, Stokes wrote on Twitter: “GIFs the best thing to grace twitter.”
The Canterbury Cricket Association (CCA) confirmed “initial informal discussions” had taken place with Stokes’ representatives “regarding his potential availability for Ford Trophy and Burger King Super Smash competitions”.
The club’s chief executive, Jeremy Curwin, said: “The CCA Board and New Zealand Cricket will independently be considering this issue in the near future but, until then, we are unable to provide any more detail on the status of the deliberations.
“As and when there are any further developments we will of course release further statements.”
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