Suspended England all-rounder Ben Stokes has signed with Canterbury Cricket for the upcoming 50-over and Twenty20 domestic competitions.
Stokes, who was born in Christchurch, remains the subject of a UK police investigation after a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub, with England Cricket waiting for that process to be finalised before deciding Stokes' next step.
The 26-year-old flew into Christchurch earlier this week to visit family while England prepare for the second Ashes test against Australia in Adelaide.
Despite the ongoing investigation New Zealand Cricket has given Canterbury clearance to sign Stokes as its overseas player on a short team contract.
CCA Director of Cricket, Gary Stead, said the Canterbury team and management are thrilled Ben Stokes has joined the team.
"After the approach from Ben's representatives everything has happened very quickly for us to the extent that we are now delighted to welcome Ben into the team.
"Ben will bring international experience to what is a relatively youthful changing room."
"He will also bring depth to our seam attack which has been affected by a string of injuries and provide more balance and firepower to our batting line up."
"While Ben awaits the outcome of an investigation underway in the UK, he wants to maintain his fitness and his connection with the game."
Canterbury Cricket chief executive Jez Curwin said while the police investigation is ongoing the Association has acted consistently and appropriately.
"While it would be easy to draw direct comparisons between the position taken recently with another player, we have to reiterate that in that situation the player was free to play until such time as he pleaded guilty to the charges."
"We believe Ben has the right to be treated the same way as other players."
Canterbury's first match is against Otago in Rangiora on Sunday.