The conspiracy theories left me wincing as I listened to the English accent of Canterbury cricket boss Jeremy Curwin explaining the rationale behind signing Ben Stokes to their roster.

It is inappropriate on so many levels. It is morally wrong, it is a snub for local talent and daft to give a potential member of England's touring squad next year practice in our conditions as he hopes to be parachuted into the Ashes series.

Canterbury are struggling for form and spectator support and are hiring a talent who has yet to face charges about an alleged assault and they believe can boost their financial and playing results. If more spectators go to Rangiora tomorrow for the limited overs match between Canterbury and Otago, I hope they remain outside the ground with placards denouncing Stokes' involvement.

England left him out of their Ashes squad in Australia after a late night brawl outside a Bristol nightclub but Canterbury have signed him suggesting he would be on the county cricket circuit if that was being played.


Stokes not been charged and Canterbury are using that as their defence. But the flashing lights should be on about a man who has a lengthy list of poor public behaviour and drinking issues.

He needs time out, time to reflect on his attitude and how much missing cricket hurts him. Instead, Canterbury's comforting embrace sends the wrong messages to Stokes, younger more impressionable cricketers and fans who support the game.

Canterbury are giving him a chance to get back into some cricketing nick if he is called across the Ditch to be involved in the Ashes. We mock our cuzzies for being the Land of Convicts but this is stretching the point.

There are arguments Canterbury needed Stokes to replace another senior batsman Ken McClure who has stepped down after admitting to assault. Shouldn't one case have been enough warning and an opportunity for the Cantabs to promote a promising young player.

If Stokes wants to travel halfway round the world with his cricket gear to see his parents and wider family for some Christmas bonhomie and sunshine, that's fine. He can go down to the local park and play a bit of social cricket with them as he thinks about the ramifications of his behaviour.

Until there is a decision on whether the allrounder has a case to answer, everyone should fall in line with the England's decision to leave him on the sidelines.