Ben Stokes’s much-anticipated return to cricket with the bat was disappointingly brief for Canterbury at the Rangiora Oval on Sunday. The 26-year-old came to the crease with the score at five for two. He departed having scored just two runs, with his team stranded on eight for three.
Otago had won the toss in the 50-over Ford Trophy match, and put the home side in to bat. The Auckland-born veteran Anaru Kitchen bowled Stokes with a left-arm orthodox delivery in the England all-rounder’s first innings since 24 September.
That was the day he made 73 in an ODI against West Indies, before becoming involved in an altercation outside a nightclub in Bristol early the next morning. Stokes and Alex Hales were both suspended by the ECB pending a police investigation, effectively making them unavailable for the Ashes.
Stokes was granted permission by the ECB to play in New Zealand even though he remains under suspension. Avon and Somerset police passed his file to the Crown Prosecution Service last week, reducing the player’s chances of being cleared to play any part in England’s ongoing Ashes series in Australia.