Suspended England all-rounder Ben Stokes landed in New Zealand on Wednesday, joking about "working on my golf swing" amid speculation he is set for a dramatic Ashes call-up.
The fiery all-rounder was tight-lipped after touching down in Christchurch, where he hopes to play first-class cricket for the Canterbury in New Zealand's domestic one-day competition. Kiwi-born Stokes said he was looking forward to seeing his parents in the South Island city he left when he was 12.
"It's been that long since I've been back here, I'm 26 now," he told reporters, refusing to discuss the trolley full of cricket gear he was pushing and instead quipping about golf.
Stokes is barred from international cricket as British police investigate his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub. But the suspension announced in September does not apply to domestic cricket, meaning Stokes could turn out for Canterbury as early as this Sunday.
Stokes' stint with the New Zealand side is widely seen as an attempt to stay match-fit if Stokes receives the call to travel to Australia and bolster an England side reeling from a 10-wicket defeat in the first Ashes Test.
Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that England had contingency plans to fast-track Stokes back into the Ashes squad within 48 hours if police decide not to charge him over the fracas. That could see him play in the T...