Suspended all-rounder Ben Stokes failed to live up to billing as England’s Ashes saviour after he struggled with both bat and ball on his return to cricket with Canterbury in New Zealand’s Ford Trophy.
In his first match since being arrested in September on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm, Stokes was bowled seventh ball for just two runs before returning figures of 0-49 off nine overs.
The clash in Rangiora, which Otago Volts won by three wickets, was also Stokes’s first match since suffering a broken hand in the incident outside a Bristol nightclub which led to his arrest.
Stokes remains banned from international duty while the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decide whether or not he will be charged, although the 26-year-old is free to play domestic cricket.
The sight of Stokes boarding a plane Down Under last week led to murmurings that he was on his way to Australia with a view to being fast-tracked into the England side for the third Test in Perth.
But the odds of that happening lengthened due to suggestions that a decision by the CPS over whether Stokes will be charged could still be a matter of weeks away.
Stokes, meanwhile, appeared to hurt his side during his Canterbury bow, although he is expected to be fit to face Auckland Aces on Wednesday. Canterbury coach Gary Stead said: “It’s just general stiffness. There’s no injury problems at all there.”