Stokes' signing will be exciting, says Canterbury coach

Ben Stokes, who is out of the side’s Ashes campaign, looks all set to play for Canterbury Cricket Club in Christchurch, with the club hosting a high-profile board meeting late on Wednesday to officially reach a decision.

Ben Stokes Ashes

The talks of Stokes playing for Canterbury surfaced after the all-rounder was spotted at the Heathrow airport with his kits bag. Here, he is pictured arriving in New Zealand on Wednesday.   -  AP

There may still be some confusion over his availability, but if things fall in place, Ben Stokes’ return to cricket could just be a matter of time. The England all-rounder, who is out of the side’s Ashes campaign, looks all set to play for Canterbury Cricket Club in Christchurch, with the club hosting a high-profile board meeting late on Wednesday to officially reach a decision.

There is, however, still some uncertainty on whether the England all-rounder would finally be brought in. But then, speaking to Sportstar from Christchurch, Canterbury Cricket Association’s director of cricket and head coach, Gary Stead, admitted that the players are looking forward to getting Stokes on board.

Down Under via New Zealand?

“On the cricketing side of things, I am hopeful of Ben being signed in because this is an opportunity that does not come around too often. It will add a lot of excitement ahead of the domestic 50-over tournament (that starts on Sunday),” Stead said on Wednesday morning.

The former New Zealand cricketer, however, was quick to add that there are still a few things left before he is signed in. “I expect that sometime early tomorrow morning, we will have a lot more clarity on the issue.”

“Ben is probably the best all-rounder of the world, or is very close to it at the moment. We have a very young side, and there are some injury issues and also some problems with the bowling unit. So, playing someone who can bowl for 10 overs and bat in the middle order and destroy the opponents, it of course it is going to add to our team,” Stead said.   -  Special Arrangement

The talks of Stokes playing for Canterbury surfaced after the all-rounder was spotted at the Heathrow airport with his kits bag. While many thought he was being called back by the England side after its defeat in the first Test, the social media updates confirmed that he was on his way to New Zealand to be with his parents. Later, it was confirmed that talks were on between Canterbury and the England star over playing for the side.

And Stead sounded confident about his inclusion as the Canterbury side is struggling with some injury issues. “Ben is probably the best all-rounder of the world, or is very close to it at the moment. We have a very young side, and there are some injury issues and also some problems with the bowling unit. So, playing someone who can bowl for 10 overs and bat in the middle order and destroy the opponents, it of course it is going to add to our team,” Stead said.

But then, there are still some issues that need to be addressed.

“We have a board meeting tonight, and we hope there are some decisions on whether Ben has been accepted or not. Hopefully, it will also be learnt if he is eligible to play. We still need a sign-up from New Zealand Cricket Board and England Cricket Board, issuing him a No Objection Certificate,” Stead added.

Contrary to reports that Stokes has already been signed in by the New Zealand club side, Stead confirmed that things are not that concrete yet. “There is certainly not being confirmed or signed at this stage. So, there is still some water to go under the bridge before we say that Ben is conventionally playing for us,” the former Black Caps batsman added.

The Canterbury side was in Chennai in August for a pre-season preparatory camp, and the coach feels that worked for his side. And now, ahead of its limited over tournament, Stead hopes that things finally fall in place.