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Ben Stokes lands in New Zealand to link up with England team-mates

He was last involved in the England set-up five months ago.

Ben Stokes has landed in New Zealand, where he will rejoin his England team-mates for the first time in five months.

Stokes touched down in Auckland at around 3.20pm local time (2.20am GMT) having travelled from Heathrow via Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, and was met by England and Wales Cricket Board officials before a 70 miles drive to the squad’s hotel in Hamilton.

On Tuesday Stokes pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray at Bristol Magistrates’ Court and made plans to link up with the side as soon as it was established he was not required to attend the next hearing on March 12.

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Stokes was last involved in the England set-up during a one-day international against the West Indies in Bristol on September 24.

Having gone out that night, he allegedly became involved in an altercation outside a nightclub, leading to a lengthy police investigation during which he was deemed unavailable for selection.

Stokes went on to miss the entire 4-0 Ashes defeat, the subsequent ODI campaign and the ongoing T20 tri-series.

England trained indoors at Seddon Park on Friday morning, meaning Stokes will not get a chance to join in with practice until Saturday at the earliest.

There is understood to be no chance of him playing against New Zealand 24 hours later, with England keen to ease him back in and assess his condition before sending him back out in a competitive environment.

Instead, Stokes’ focus will be on pushing for selection for the ODI series against New Zealand, which begins on February 25.

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