England allrounder Ben Stokes has ended his New Zealand domestic cricket spell and will fly home to tend to “family reasons”, Canterbury have announced.
The move virtually ensures Stokes will take no part in the 2017/18 Ashes series.
Suspended from international cricket as he waits on a verdict from UK prosecutors regarding his role in a Bristol incident which left another man with a fractured eye socket, Stokes signed with Canterbury as an overseas player at the end of November and participated in one dayers and T20s.
In a statement, the 26-year-old — who was provisionally named in the tourists’ ODI squad for the series that follows the Ashes, starting January 14 in Melbourne — said he had “thoroughly enjoyed training and playing with Canterbury” and that he “couldn’t have asked for any more from my time here”.
Canterbury chief executive Jez Curwin confirmed on Saturday that Stokes was flying home.
“Ben has been great around the club, the team and the staff. We can’t fault his attitude or his all-round contribution in his time with us,” he said.
Many had earlier questioned the merits of hastily signing the allrounder, but Canterbury coach Gary Stead on Thursday said Stokes’s competitive streak, leadership and cricket nous had been a boon for his side.
Stokes struggled early on in his NZ stint but struck form with a match-winning 93 during a T20 match last week.