Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Stokes lands in New Zealand to join up with England

Stokes has landed in New Zealand. Photo: PA

Ben Stokes received a warm welcome as he rejoined the England squad in New Zealand, ending his five-month exile from the international set-up.

Stokes pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Tuesday and boarded a plane at Heathrow the following day to resume work with England ahead of an anticipated on-field return later this month.

The all-rounder landed in Auckland at around 3.20pm local time (2.20am GMT), having travelled via Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, and was met by three members of the England and Wales Cricket Board's support staff at Auckland airport before a 70-mile drive to the team hotel in Hamilton.

On hand to greet him with a hug were team-mates Liam Plunkett and David Willey, the latter pushing his five-month old son in a buggy, alongside physio Craig de Weymarn.

Stokes' last involvement with England came during a one-day international against the West Indies in Bristol on September 24. Credit: PA

Stokes embraced all three in turn and spoke for several minutes before heading for his room pushing a luggage trolley. Stokes was expected to join several squad members to watch New Zealand's tri-series game against Australia in the team room.

The 26-year-old's last involvement with England came during a one-day international against the West Indies in Bristol on September 24.

Later that night he allegedly became involved in an altercation outside a nightclub, leading to a lengthy police investigation during which he was deemed unavailable for selection by the ECB.

Stokes went on to miss the entire 4-0 Ashes defeat, the subsequent ODI campaign and the ongoing T20 tri-series.

England had already trained indoors at Seddon Park by time he landed, but Stokes is expected to take some part in Saturday's practice session at the ground. There is understood to be no chance of him playing against New Zealand 24 hours later, with England keen to ease him back in and assess his condition before sending him back out in a competitive environment.

Instead, Stokes' focus will be on pushing for selection for the ODI series against New Zealand, which begins on February 25.