Stokes raises Ashes hopes with New Zealand trip

Updated: 

England all-rounder Ben Stokes could be closer to taking part in the Ashes, having boarded a flight to New Zealand.

Christchurch-born Stokes did not travel to Australia with England's squad while police investigated the circumstances surrounding his arrest in the early hours of September 25 in Bristol.

Stokes was released without charge after being detained following an alleged fight with two men outside a bar.

A picture purported to be of Stokes at Heathrow airport, posted on Twitter late on Monday night UK time, caused ripples of excitement that the Durham player might be linking up with Joe Root's men, who lost the first test in Brisbane by 10 wickets, in the absence of their star all-rounder.

An ECB official confirmed to Omnisport that, while Stokes was indeed at the airport, he was making "a private trip to New Zealand to spend time with his family".

Avon and Somerset Police have not issued an update on their investigation into the incident in Bristol and England director of cricket Andrew Strauss has previously suggested that Stokes' involvement in the Ashes will hinge on inquiries being concluded.