Alex Hales available for England selection after avoiding police charge

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The Cumbrian flew to New Zealand, the place of his birth, earlier in the week and signed as an overseas player for Canterbury on Thursday.

Ben Stokes endured a torrid time with bat and ball as he suffered defeat on his Canterbury debut against Otago in New Zealand's 50-over Ford Trophy.

On the field, the all-rounder was dismissed for two and then failed to take a wicket in his nine overs as Otago claimed a three-wicket win.

Batting first at the Mainpower Oval in Rangiora, one of the more sleepy venues that Stokes has ever encountered during his career, he arrived at the crease with his side already in trouble at 5 for 2 in the third over.

But Stokes, coming in with his team five for two against Otago, lasted less than 10 minutes in his first innings, hitting one pull for two over midwicket before he was bowled playing back to left arm spinner Anaru Kitchen. Canterbury coach Gary Stead said: "It's just general stiffness. It's to be expected that he's a little rusty but he'll benefit from the run".

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Stokes, meanwhile, appeared to hurt his side during his Canterbury bow, although he is expected to be fit to face Auckland Aces on Wednesday.

Durham's Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after an incident on 25 September in which a man suffered a fractured eye socket.

Both Hales and Stokes were not considered for selection for the Ashes in Australia, but the former is now free to play in upcoming contests.

On Stokes' clearance, England stood firm on their decision to wait until the police investigation concludes.

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