The Indian Premier League holds the key to success for England’s T20 and ODI teams. Whether the ECB like it or not, they have to encourage more of their players to enter the IPL auction. The scheduling clash between international games and the IPL has always been a problem. Although England games must come first for all English players, there’s certainly room for maneuver in certain scenarios. Warm up matches and dead rubber games surely don’t need the full squad’s participation. If the chairman of the ECB, Giles Clarke, and head coach, Peter Moores, were to allow those players who have achieved an IPL contract to spend time with their Indian team, it will be beneficial to everyone in the long run.
Kevin Pieterson has shown the way for his fellow English players. It was a brave move for KP as many, myself included, argued that he should put England first and dismissed his claims that the scheduling was too hectic. Now, however, I can understand the benefits of the IPL and the need for the ECB to allow players rest on an individual basis.
The IPL, above everything, is a collection of many of the world’s best cricketers playing outstanding T20 cricket. Why wouldn’t the ECB want their players to take part in this event? It’s the perfect arena to improve their players. IPL participants face cricket as tough as international cricket, helping to hone their skills. They get to tap into the brilliant cricket minds they play alongside, oppose and are coached by. They get to experience playing in Indian conditions and feel what it’s like to play on a huge stage in front of thousands of fans. And, most importantly, they get to play more T20 cricket. Surely the ECB can find space to allow their players to participate.
For the 2015 tournament, only two current England players have been bought, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan. They will be joining the likes of Dale Steyn, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan at Sunrises Hyderabad. Alex Hales, and Michael Carberry did enter the auction, but weren’t bought. Kevin Pieterson was also bought by the Sunrisers and, along with Ravi, was fairly happy about it.
With the timing of the IPL coinciding with the start of the English summer, it’s difficult for certain players to commit to an IPL contract. England start a Test series against the West Indies not long after the start of the IPL. Also the domestic season starts to get underway and, with many players feeling that they owe allegiance to their counties, they disregard the IPL.
Due to the awkward scheduling, it seems only a select group of English players can commit to playing in the IPL. Those available are players who don’t play Tests but play enough international ODI and T20 cricket to have a weak relationship with their county . Morgan and Bopara fit into this category but there’s a whole bunch of players who also fit the mould. Franchise cricket is ideal for players on the fringe of the England limited over squads and are unlikely to make the Test team. Players such as James Tredwell, Harry Gurney, Jason Roy, Jade Dernbach, Stephen Parry, Tymal Mills, Tim Bresnan and so on, should have had a go at getting an IPL contract. It might not have worked out (like it didn’t with Hales and Carberry) which must be a bit of a confidence blow, but as my Nan said, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
With the rest of the world continually improving their skills in the shorter formats, England are falling behind. Yes, we have our own limited over competitions, but they’re nowhere near the standard of franchise cricket and although arguments are being put forward to improve our domestic competitions, it won’t happen anytime soon. The onus is on the ECB to encourage players to join the IPL because sometimes, if you can’t beat them, you have to join them.