Ben Stokes returns to England from New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) England allrounder Ben Stokes was due to return home Saturday after a short spell playing for Canterbury province in New Zealand’s domestic limited overs competitions.

Stokes has spent a month in New Zealand visiting his parents in Christchurch and playing for Canterbury in the Ford Trophy 50 overs competition and Twenty20 Super Smash League.

The 26-year-old New Zealand-born allrounder is currently suspended from the England team as he waits to learn whether he will be charged over his role in an assault outside a nightclub in the England city of Bristol in September.

Stokes’ presence in New Zealand led to speculation he might be added to the England test squad if he was not charged, but he leaves New Zealand still unsure whether he will face any further legal action. England has already lost the first three matches against Australia to concede the Ashes.

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Jez Curwin, who was instrumental in signing Stokes to the province, said Stokes is returning to England for family reasons.

”It’s got nothing to do with the legal situation,” Curwin told Fairfax Media. ”Christmas time, he’s a long way from home and he’s been through a lot. And the reality is he wants to spend Christmas with his wife and two kids who miss him a huge amount.”

Stokes had mixed fortunes on the field in his brief stint with Canterbury. He scored 36 runs in three 50 overs matches while taking 1-144 and he scored 133 runs in three Twenty20 innings, taking two wickets.

Curwin said Stokes’ experience had been valuable to the young Canterbury team.

”From my point of view he’s been brilliant,” he said. ”We’d welcome him back with open arms.”

Avon and Somerset police, who arrested Stokes after the nightclub incident on Sept. 25, have provided details of their investigation to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service who have yet to decide whether charges will be pursued.

Stokes has been named in England’s squad for a one-day series in Australia in January but his selection is provisional on any future legal action.