Ben Stokes is not on his way to Australia to take part in the Ashes despite his sighting at Heathrow airport sparking furious speculation that he could make a dramatic return for England.
The all-rounder was suspended by England indefinitely after a video emerged of him punching two people outside a nightclub in Bristol and remains under investigation by Avon and Somerset Police.
When a picture emerged of him complete with cricket gear on his way Down Under on Monday night, many assumed he would be linking up with the England team – but he is actually travelling to New Zealand.
Stokes’ parents live in Christchurch and he intends to spend time with them, while Canterbury Cricket have revealed that they are in talk with the 26-year-old to feature in a number of upcoming competitions.
A statement read: ‘Canterbury Cricket can now confirm that they have been in initial informal discussions with Ben Stokes’ representatives regarding his potential availability for Ford Trophy and Burger King Super Smash competitions.’
Canterbury Cricket CEO Jeremy Curwin confirmed: ‘The CCA Board and New Zealand Cricket will independently be considering this issue in the near future but, until then, we are unable to provide any more detail on the status of the deliberations.
‘As and when there are any further developments we will of course release further statements.’
The ECB also confirmed that Stokes would not be returning to England duty in the foreseeable future: ‘We are aware that Ben Stokes is making a private trip to New Zealand to spend time with his family. His travel has not been arranged by the ECB.
‘He is not on his way to the Ashes, the England Lions or any other training camps within the England set-up. Ben is allowed by the Avon and Somerset police to leave the country.’
Of course, that did not stop fans from dreaming…
More: England cricket