Ben Stokes is on a plane – but is he any closer to playing in the Ashes?

The all-rounder’s absence has hung over England ever since the Ashes squad was announced, but does the fact he is currently flying to New Zealand mean he is any closer to joining them in Australia?

Stokes is en route to Christchurch, having privately arranged a visit to the town of his birth. The ECB have made clear that they played no part in arranging the trip, and that the player “is not on his way to the Ashes, England Lions or any other official training camps with the England set-up”.

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