Wellington — Suspended England star Ben Stokes gave a rusty performance on his return to cricket on Sunday in a provincial one-day match in New Zealand, his country of birth.
Amid speculation that the allrounder was using the match as a tune-up in case he earns a dramatic Ashes call-up, he looked in need of time in the middle when he turned out for Canterbury against Otago.
However, he is expected to play again for Canterbury in three days as he looks to work himself back into form.
Batting at No4, Stokes lasted only seven balls and contributed just two runs towards Canterbury’s 221. He then proved unsuccessful with the ball, taking 0/49 off nine overs as Otago chased down the target with 15 balls to spare.
While England are playing before a 55,000-plus crowd in the second Ashes Test against Australia in Adelaide, Stokes turned out before a crowd of several hundred at a village ground on the outskirts of Christchurch. They were clearly disappointed when the highly acclaimed England representative player trudged from the field early in the Canterbury innings with his leg stump flattened.
It was only the 20th wicket in 76 matches for Otago spinner Anaru Kitchen.
Stokes is currently banned from international cricket while British authorities probe his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub.