Canterbury Cricket have signed Ben Stokes to play in the Ford Trophy.

The invitation has been agreed with the English Cricket Board, endorsed by the New Zealand Cricket Players Association and sanctioned by New Zealand Cricket.

Stokes will be available to play for Canterbury in their opening Ford Trophy match against Otago on December 3.

A flurry of local and international speculation saw the decision delayed while extra discussions took place.


The Herald understands Canterbury gave the matter careful thought after the initial enthusiasm to recruit such a world-class player wavered.

Read more: Police move forward on Stokes case

One source said "murmurings" from the province suggested the situation was far from definitive. The pragmatic value in having a player of Stokes' talent was weighed against any possible backlash after his arrest and release on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after a September 25 brawl in Bristol.

Canterbury's director of cricket Gary Stead said Stokes had a tremendous amount to offer.

"After the approach from Ben's representatives everything has happened quickly for us to the extent we are now delighted to welcome him into the team.

"Ben will bring international experience to a relatively youthful changing room.

"He will also bring depth to our seam attack which has been affected by a string of injuries and provide more balance and firepower to our batting line-up."

Stokes wants to maintain his fitness and connection with the game as he awaits the outcome of the investigation in Britain.


"He is a brilliant all-round player and we are pleased to have secured one of the world's best players in our domestic competition," Stead said.

"His experience will be invaluable to our young cricketers as we look defend our Ford Trophy title and improve performances in the Burger King Super Smash.

Today the investigation surrounding Stokes was passed to Britain's Crown Prosecution Service.

A statement from Avon and Somerset police said they were "seeking charging advice".

In essence, nothing has changed with Stokes' legal situation. No charges have been laid.

Read more: Aussie legend slams English management over Stokes 'lie'

Stokes' tenure could be brief if he is selected for the third Ashes test starting in Perth on December 14.

The 26-year-old is unavailable for international selection while he and the England and Wales Cricket Board await a decision on whether he will be charged. Any ECB disciplinary hearing will take place after that.

His absence from the England side has already been felt. Australia beat the visitors by 10 wickets in the first test in Brisbane.

Read more: Ben Stokes' dad breaks silence on son's saga

The decision might unleash an ethical debate.

While Stokes has not been charged, the video footage suggests he was involved in a significant altercation. Some believe that jars with Canterbury-contracted player Ken McClure standing down from representative cricket after pleading guilty to one count of injuring with reckless disregard.

He assaulted a man in Hanmer Springs in September and will be sentenced on January 19.

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Jez Curwin clarified the issue.

"While it would be easy to draw direct comparisons between the position taken recently with another player [McClure], we have to reiterate that in that situation the player was free to play until such time as he pleaded guilty.

"We believe Ben has the right to be treated the same way as other players.

"It is also our understanding that Ben would be free to play county cricket in the English domestic competition were they in season."

Curwin said they would reassess the situation if it changed.

"The Ashes series is an obvious connection, however that has not been a consideration for us or Ben at this time, he is just keen to be able to work again."