Spruce up press box — here come UK media
Rangiora Oval will need to ensure their media facilities are equipped for full capacity when Canterbury’s Ford Trophy campaign begins against Otago today.
Controversial England star Ben Stokes is due to turn out for the hosts. The 26- year- old was suspended by England after he was arrested and released on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after a September 25 brawl in Bristol. But he is free to play in New Zealand at domestic level ahead of any charges being laid in England. The Canterbury contract has been agreed with the England and Wales Cricket Board ( ECB), endorsed by the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association and sanctioned by New Zealand Cricket.
Such i s the interest in Stokes’ movements, several of the England Ashes media party are expected to be seconded across the Tasman.
The day- night test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval will be going simultaneously.
But it could be a long journey for a day watching cricket as Stokes has been gagged by his legal team.
Stokes is yet to break his silence regarding the brawl outside a British nightclub that left another man with a fractured eye socket. UK police have finalised a probe into the incident and prosecutors must decide whether to charge England’s vice- captain.
Christchurch- born Stokes, who has become more active on social media in recent weeks and posted a good luck message to his teammates before the first Ashes test, signed a contract with the Canterbury Cricket Association ( CCA) on Thursday.
Domestic players in New Zealand are contractually obliged to perform media and promotional duties, while overseas signings are generally required to do the same.
But CCA chief executive Jez Curwin has confirmed those rules won’t apply to Stokes.
“It’s because of his legal situation,” Curwin told UK newspaper The Times.
“[ We could] possibly use him for some community appearances.
“We cannot put him in jeopardy of his court proceedings. He’s just not allowed to talk about it and that’s not something he can risk. Nor are we prepared to put him in that situation.”
Stokes’ contract stipulates he can leave Canterbury at any point, meaning he will be free to join England’s Ashes squad should prosecutors hand down their verdict and the ECB punish him with a backdated ban.
The ECB has made it clear it will not convene an emergency board meeting until the prosecutors announce their intentions.
“I’m really excited for him to be playing cricket again,” England skipper Joe Root said of his deputy.
“It’s good for him to be outdoors and getting himself ready if the opportunity arises for him to come across [ during the Ashes].
“If not, for him to get back into playing cricket and get out there and away from everything that happened, to move on, is really good for him personally,” Root said of Stokes’ stay with his parents in Christchurch.