Ben Stokes hardly dazzled with the bat in New Zealand on Sunday.
Ben Stokes hardly dazzled with the bat in New Zealand on Sunday.

Stokes fails to fire with bat in NZ return

BANISHED England all-rounder Ben Stokes looks anything but Ashes ready after an embarrassing first outing for Canterbury.

Stokes was bowled by left arm Otago spinner Anaru Kitchen for just two in a lacklustre debut in picturesque Rangiora on Sunday morning.

The presence of the England star, stood down from international cricket as he awaits the conclusion of an investigation in to a late night incident in Bristol in September, drew a cartel of local and international media to Mainpower Oval for the beginning of the domestic one day competition.

Around 300 spectators were also in the ground in time to see Stokes' short innings as he was called on early when his side crashed to 2-5 in the third over.

Ben Stokes is knocked over for just 2.
Ben Stokes is knocked over for just 2.

Otago captain Jimmy Neesham had stoked the fires pregame declaring "its not like Don Bradman is coming out to bat" in reference to the hype around Stokes joining Canterbury.

And Neesham was right.

Stokes, who had his first training session with Canterbury on Saturday, which included two goes with the bat as he tried to find some touch, only faced six balls, played one attacking pull shot for two runs, then was out just three balls later when a delivery from little-known spinner Kitchen kept low and rocked Stokes' stumps.

His dismissal left his team, defending champions in the Ford Trophy, in all sorts of trouble at 3-8.

Ben Stokes’ return to the middle was brief.
Ben Stokes’ return to the middle was brief.

Stokes, who drew a "big welcome" from the ground announcer as he came out to bat, and a smattering of applause from the excited locals, will look to redeem himself when he opens the bowling later in the day.

His presence in New Zealand continues to cause debate with the potential for charges over the Bristol incident, in which one man was left with a fractured eye socket, still looming.

While plenty of commentators are calling for Stokes, who was playing his first game for 69 days, to be rushed in the England side for the Ashes series, team officials have maintained there will be no change to he situation until the legal matter is finalised.



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