Ben Stokes doesn’t appear to be in the kind of form that could save the Ashes for England, given the star all-rounder’s latest lean performance for Canterbury province in New Zealand’s domestic limited-overs cricket championship.
Stokes, who is under police investigation over an alleged assault outside a Bristol nightclub in September, scored 34 and took a catch but failed to take a wicket in seven overs as Canterbury lost by seven wickets to Auckland at Eden Park on Wednesday.
Along with the other Canterbury bowlers, Stokes’ figures were bruised by New Zealand batsman Colin Munro, who made an unbeaten 174 from 118 balls.
Stokes’ performance was at least an improvement on his Canterbury debut last weekend when he scored only two runs in a six-ball innings and went wicketless in nine overs in a loss to Otago.
The New Zealand-born allrounder has been suspended from playing for England while police investigate his role in the September 25 incident in Bristol which followed a limited-overs international against the West Indies. Avon and Somerset police have completed their investigation and are seeking advice from prosecutors on whether or not charges should be laid.
While the 27-year-old Stokes has said he is in New Zealand to visit his parents, who live in Christchurch, he could quickly rejoin the England team if he is not charged or if there is any delay in a charging decision.
The England Cricket Board has said Stokes will remain suspended pending the police investigation.
England has lost the first two tests to Australia in Brisbane and Adelaide and is likely to be more eager to recall Stokes if circumstances make it possible. The five-match Ashes series continues in Perth from Dec. 14.