Chris Woakes says England would welcome Ben Stokes 'with open arms' as they try to rebuild after defeat by Australia in Ashes opener
- England star Ben Stokes arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday morning?
- All-rounder is set to visit family and potentially play for Canterbury?
- Path has been smoothed for Stokes to play in the Ashes if cleared by police
- Chris Woakes says England would welcome Stokes back 'with open arms'?
England would welcome back Ben Stokes 'with open arms', according to all-rounder Chris Woakes as one of cricket's greatest will-he-won't-he sagas rumbled on Down Under.
Stokes arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday morning local time ahead of his potential appearance on Sunday for Canterbury in a 50-over game in remote Rangiora.?
Canterbury officials met later in the day to discuss the situation, and will announce their decision on Thursday.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand on Wednesday to visit family and potentially play for Canterbury during his stay?
?Stokes receives a warm embrace from his mum, Deborah, after landing in New Zealand
Stokes was greeted by a media frenzy as he prepares to play competitive cricket again
England's Chris Woakes say the team would welcome Stokes back 'with open arms'?
Many Australians are getting ready to mount their moral high horses should Avon and Somerset police effectively give him the all clear to play in the third Test at Perth, starting on December 14 – although any criminal charge would end Stokes's chances of a dramatic Ashes appearance.
But from the perspective of the England dressing-room, the equation is simple: the sooner Stokes can bolster their efforts, the better – not least because defeat in the second Test at Adelaide would ramp up the chatter about a third 5-0 whitewash in four Ashes visits.
'As an England team, we'd like to see him here,' said Woakes, who had a quiet first Test at the Gabba, scoring 17 runs and taking only one wicket for 113.
'As a player, as a friend, I'd like to see him here. No one likes to see what he's been through. Of course, we'd have him here with open arms, I'm sure.
Woakes celebrates taking his one and only wicket in the first Test - that of Pat Cummins
Woakes made just 17 with the bat as England slumped to a 10-wicket defeat at the Gabba
'Ben's a world-class cricketer and he'd make any team in the world better, so it'd be silly of us to not open it up for him to come into the squad.'
It came as no surprise to either side that Stokes's absence made itself felt at Brisbane, where England's lack of depth with the bat and bite with the ball contributed heavily to their 10-wicket defeat.
Jonny Bairstow will have a different kind of point to prove, with the Australians quietly enjoying the idea that David Warner's sledge – 'you shouldn't headbutt our mates' – contributed to his second-innings demise in Brisbane, when he steered Mitchell Starc to third man.
But Woakes insisted England's wicketkeeper had not been unduly affected by the publicity.
'He's been himself, chatty as normal. He's happy to sweep whatever was at the Gabba under the carpet. I think it was blown out of proportion, as things usually are in an Ashes series.
?Stokes arrived in Christchurch on Wednesday morning with his luggage and cricket kit
Stokes is surrounded by reporters as he makes his way out of Christchurch Airport
'He probably wouldn't like to get out in that manner. But I'm not actually sure that did get in his mind. When you're batting with the tail, you're likely to try to be a bit more expansive, and try to hit the ball in more awkward areas.'
Adding to the sense of a team under siege only one game into this five-match series was the midnight curfew reluctantly imposed earlier in the week by director of cricket Andrew Strauss.
'He just reminded us about our responsibilities as England players,' said Woakes. 'We know what we're allowed and not allowed to do. We have to step up, and be grown men about it.'
Strauss did not impose an alcohol ban, believing that to be too draconian a measure to impose on adults during five months away from home, but the local Adelaide Advertiser has already had fun explaining to its readers why they won't be seeing any of England's cricketers this week in the local nightspots.
Jonny Bairstow arrived in Adelaide wearing sunglasses and headphones after the 'headbutt' controversy involving Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft?
Australia captain Steve Smith struggles to hold it together as Bancroft recalls his bizarre meeting with Bairstow?
It's easy to forget we're only a couple of days away from a crucial second Test, where England believe the potential for the pink ball to swing under lights will give them a chance of squaring the series.
But they will also have to take a leaf out of Steve Smith's book, after the Australian captain resisted everything England threw at him during his eight-and-a-half-hour 141 not out at the Gabba. The contrast with Joe Root's side, who boasted seven scores between 38 and 83, was telling.
'We haven't started very well in that first Test match,' said Woakes. 'But we realise we have an opportunity out here to do something pretty special.'
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