England cricket chiefs have denied that all-rounder Ben Stokes is flying to Australia to join their Ashes squad after he was pictured at Heathrow airport with his cricket bag.
Stokes remains under investigation after being arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm outside a Bristol nightclub in September, hours after England’s one-day victory over West Indies in the city.
While the 26-year-old was travelling Down Under, he is believed to be undertaking a private trip to New Zealand and visiting family.
“The ECB is aware that Ben Stokes is making a private trip to New Zealand to spend time with his family. His travel arrangements have not been arranged by the ECB,” read an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.
“He is not on his way to the Ashes, England Lions or any other official training camps with the England set-up.”
Director of cricket Andrew Strauss provided an update on the situation of Stokes, who remains unavailable for selection, in the aftermath of England’s 10-wicket defeat to Australia in the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane.
Strauss said: “We are waiting for the police to make a charging decision and, until that happens, nothing has changed. We’re in the same situation as we have been for quite a long time now.”