Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker sent Twitter into a frenzy after hearing that Ben Stokes was at Heathrow Airport on Monday evening.
Fellow Twitterer @Rossco_1990 then posted a picture of what appeared to be the all-rounder wearing his full England training kit whilst carrying his cricket gear.
Here he is!!! pic.twitter.com/jC1z0h74UQ
— Ross (@rossco_1990) November 27, 2017
The ECB were forced to quickly quash speculation, insisting the all-rounder was making a private trip to New Zealand to spend time with his family.
However, rumours persisted that Stokes had been granted a No Objection Certificate that permits him to play domestic cricket in New Zealand, and that his representatives have held discussions with Canterbury, who face Otago in a List A match on Sunday.
A Canterbury Cricket statement confirmed that they had “been in initial informal discussions with Ben Stokes’ representatives regarding his potential availability for Ford Trophy and Burger King Super Smash cricket”.
Stokes is not serving an official ban but he will not be considered for selection in international cricket while the ECB await the decision from Avon and Somerset Police on whether Stokes will be charged following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub.