Over the last few days, the cricketing world has had a close watch on the performance of Ben Stokes. The England all-rounder, who is out of the Ashes following the night club crawl in September, has played a couple of games for Canterbury. But none of the outings have been worth remembering for the England star.

While he scored just two runs in his Canterbury debut against Otago, Stokes managed only 34 in the previous game against Auckland. On top of that, he went wicketless in both the matches.

Despite the lacklustre performances, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has picked Stokes, and Alex Hales, for the ODI series against Australia, which begins in January. While the cricketing fraternity appears divided over Stokes inclusion, Gary Stead, the cricket director and coach at Canterbury Cricket Association, feels Stokes is just getting back into his groove.

Speaking to Sportstar from Christchurch on Thursday early morning, Stead made it clear that Stokes is preparing himself for a return to international cricket. “He has been great with us. He is getting back to form,” the former Kiwi batsman said.

Admitting it was not a perfect start for Stokes in New Zealand, Stead said the all-rounder would only get better with time. “He got better in the second game, and I am hoping it to continue,” Stead said, adding: “He is just getting back into his routine. He is focusing both on batting and bowling.”

Stead also confirmed that Stokes is not doing anything extra to be ready for international cricket. “There is nothing special that he is doing. He is just getting back there. He is obviously a world class all-rounder and he just needs some time to be where he wants to be,” opined Canterbury’s coach.

The team, which roped Stokes for the 50-over domestic tournament, has also given him enough space. “It is more about allowing him to get back into the groove and letting him play his natural game. We have not had too much practice or anything with him, he knows his job very well,” Stead said.

The England cricketer will be available for selection when Canterbury takes on Northern District on Sunday. “We practice in between games. Stokes also joins us. It is just a preparation ahead of the game, and there is no specific training for him. It is just about getting ready for the match,” Stead said, adding that Stokes will feature in Sunday’s fixture too. “As far I am aware, he is playing,” the coach said.

Ever since getting involved in the bar brawl in September, Stokes has been suspended by the ECB and he is also awaiting a result on police investigation. But then, with the ECB picking him in the provisional squad for one-dayers against Australia, Ben’s chances of returning to international cricket may not be too far.