England’s top players are expected to have their time in the IPL limited in order to best prepare for Test series, according to a report in The Times.
The decision to restrict players’ involvement to the first few weeks of the IPL is one of a series of recommendations on how to improve England’s Test fortunes that will be presented by Ashley Giles, managing director of men’s cricket, to Andrew Strauss, head of the ECB’s cricket committee, and the ECB’s board of directors, the report states.
The recommendation is designed to ensure that England’s Test players will be able to better prepare for the first Test series of the English summer by being available for a number of first class games before the Test series commences.
Last summer, a number of England’s high profile players were rested for the two Test match series against New Zealand as a result of their participation in the IPL. That decision was part of England’s policy of rest and rotation, a strategy that has been criticised and seen by some as a contributing factor to England’s poor Test record of just four wins in their previous 15 matches.
The ECB will be wary, however, of a potential player backlash given how financially lucrative the IPL is and that restrictions on their availability will directly impact their market value.
But, it is reported that there is an increasing feeling within the ECB that allowing centrally contracted players, particularly the multiformat ones whose contracts are worth in excess £1 million, to be unavailable for two months of the year is unacceptable.
It is a problem that is likely to be exacerbated by the IPL expanding from eight teams to ten. The competition is now likely to run from the start of April until the first week of June, when England are scheduled to take on New Zealand in the first of three Tests.
England’s Test players who are expected to be bought in the upcoming auction include Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood. The move would also impact Jos Buttler, who was retained by his franchise the Rajasthan Royals. Joe Root, England’s Test captain, is also said to be keen to participate in the upcoming IPL.