AUCKLAND: No minutes are quite so egalitarian as those endured between disembarking an international flight and making it to the arrivals hall, as Ben Stokes learnt on Friday.
Travelling without the privileges of a foreign dignitary or a rock star, England’s returning all-rounder spent the better part of an hour collecting luggage and ticking boxes before emerging to a flood of media questions that are bound to now become a daily part of his existence.
When starting his long journey at Heathrow on Wednesday, Stokes posted a photo to Instagram of his boarding pass captioned with a smiley face emoji. But with the trip finally complete, his eyes were fixed firmly forward, pacing past the hire car desks and into the welcoming arms of a modest party of ECB handlers.
His job was to grin politely and get out of there, not stop to chat, as he finally joined up with the England team 144 days after the incident outside a Bristol nightclub that has kept him out of the team.
After indicating he will plead not guilty to a charge of affray in court earlier this week he now faces a Crown Court trial but he is not required at the first hearing on March 12 and is free to play in New Zealand if selected.