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English all-rounder Stokes joins New Zealand side Canterbury 

Christchurch, Nov 30 (IANS) Controversial English all-rounder Ben Stokes was on Thursday signed by New Zealand’s Canterbury Cricket Association as their overseas player.

Stokes, who was last week granted a No Objection Certificate by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), will be available for selection for Canterbury’s 50-over Ford Trophy match against Otago in Rangiora on Sunday.

“Ben (Stokes) will bring international experience to what is a relatively youthful changing room. He will also bring depth to our seam attack which has been affected by a string of injuries and provide more balance and firepower to our batting line up,” Canterbury coach Gary Stead said after the signing.

“He is a brilliant all-round player and we are really pleased to have secured one of the world’s best players in our domestic competition. His experience will be invaluable to our young cricketers as we look defend our Ford Trophy title and improve performances in the Burger King Super Smash,” he added.

The 26-year-old all-rounder was stood down from playing international cricket as the ECB awaits the decision of the Avon and Somerset police on whether he will be charged for his involvement in a fracas outside a Bristol nightclub, which occurred in September. 

On Wednesday, the police said they had completed their investigation into the incident and had passed on a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for advice on whether Stokes should be charged.

The fact that Stokes has been cleared to travel, added to the proximity of New Zealand to Australia, means that ECB will attempt to parachute him into their Ashes squad immediately after resolution of the police investigation.

His English teammate Chris Woakes, currently part of the Ashes tour party, had on Wednesday said that the English team is ready to welcome the all-rounder with “open arms”.

England lost the opener of the five-match Ashes rubber by 10 wickets in Brisbane and are preparing to play the historic day-night second Test in Adelaide from Saturday.

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