New Zealand trip Stokes suspicion in Australia

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MNA Sports Desk: Ben Stokes’s arrival in New Zealand on a ‘private’ trip has been viewed with suspicion in neighbouring Australia, where pundits smelled a plot to recall the exiled cricketer to England’s Ashes squad.

New Zealand-born Stokes was omitted from England’s touring party following his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

He remains suspended by the England and Wales cricket board (ECB), pending the result of a police investigation.

Stokes greeted his parents after touching down at Christchurch airport on Wednesday but batted away questions from a media throng about his hopes of a quick Ashes recall.

He also stayed silent on a possible plan to play for Canterbury after the provincial side revealed on Tuesday it had been in talks with him about a possible short-term deal.

Australia hold a 1-0 lead in the five-test Ashes after beating England in the opener in Brisbane on Monday. The second test starts in Adelaide on Saturday.