Ben Stokes in talks with Canterbury over playing domestic New Zealand cricket

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The prodigious all-rounder is now suspended pending a police investigation into an alleged assault which saw him dropped from the national squad for The Ashes series against Australia.

Ben Stokes could return to cricket as soon as this weekend, with his representatives discussing a potential deal with New Zealand's Canterbury Cricket Club.

Stokes sent social media into overdrive on Monday night when he was pictured at Heathrow airport with his England cricket kit but the European Central Bank said he was going to New Zealand to visit family. Speculation about Stokes' intentions arose when he was reportedly spotted at London's Heathrow Airport with his cricket gear, with photos spreading quickly on social media.

However, it is understood Stokes is heading to New Zealand to practice and spend time with his family, rather than meeting up with his England team-mates.

Stokes has been suspended pending the outcome of investigations into a late-night incident in which he appeared to get involved in a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

In the fallout from the first Test loss, England all-rounder Ben Stokes has boarded a plane from the UK.

Though he was initially named in the Ashes squad, he was subsequently told he would not be selected by England "until further notice". "His travel arrangements have not been arranged by the European Central Bank", an ECB statement read.

Stokes, who was born in New Zealand, was given permission to travel on Friday.

He was released by police while the investigation continues.

"But until then, we are unable to provide any more detail on the status of the deliberations".

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