Ashes absentee Stokes greeted by New Zealand media

In what must be considered one of the more bizarre subplots in the rich history of the Ashes, England's Ben Stokes was greeted by keen media interest upon his arrival in New Zealand on Wednesday, as the soap opera surrounding the all-rounder's potential involvement in the series continues.

Stokes will not be considered for selection by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) until the conclusion of a police investigation following his arrest in Bristol in September on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.

He is permitted to travel, though, and the Christchurch-born star arrived in his native New Zealand ahead of a potential spell playing first-class cricket for Canterbury.

The 26-year-old was quoted as saying by the BBC that he was "just looking forward to seeing mum and dad", who greeted their son at the airport, together with film crews and reporters.

Conspicuous among Stokes' luggage was his cricket gear and speculation remains rife that he could yet be fast-tracked into the England side mid-series.

Joe Root's team lost the first Test in Brisbane by 10 wickets and will attempt to respond to that crushing defeat when the second match begins at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

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