Emphasising the growing importance of Indian Premier League in the development of a player, former England captain and current ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss has hinted the board could further soften its stance on allowing the players to feature in the tournament.
Not a big admirer of the IPL, England, in the past, had gone as far as deducting money from the players’ central contracts to stop them from playing in the IPL. However, the last couple of seasons have witnessed a welcome change from the English board. In fact, in this year’s tournament, several England players were even allowed to skip the ODI series against Ireland to play for their respective franchises.
And going by Strauss’ word, one can only hope that there will be a further influx of England players in India and the board would probably schedule their series accordingly so that the players can play in the IPL without bothering much about the national commitment.
“They are already missing the odd international game,” Strauss told Sky Sports. “I suppose what we’ve got to think about are our high priorities – what are the ones that we want our best XI on the park and also our best XI in a really good frame of mind, both mentally and physically to perform.
“And what are the series where we can have a look at it and say ‘this might be a series where we can rest one or two and bring one or two new faces into the environment, so they get a taste of what it’s like’, so it’s not a surprise if and when they are playing in a more important, or a higher profile series down the road’,” he added.
Strauss further said that the IPL not only helps the players to earn a big fortune but also develops them as cricketers.
“The schedules allow our players to play most of the tournament,” he said. “We’re always looking at workloads and how best to manage our players but I think we also have to accept that for us as an international team to fight the IPL is probably not a smart move going forward.
“So we’ve got to accept it’s there, gets maximum benefit out of it and realise that actually – as well as helping players’ bank balances, it really does help their development as cricketers as well. We need to find opportunities for our players to do that.”
“If the IPL aren’t looking at our players and saying ‘these guys are going to add value’ that’s probably an indication of where we actually sit. If they are saying our players can add value, that’s a good place for us to be,” he added.
Strauss backed his claim by citing the example of Ben Stokes who took IPL by storm in his inaugural season. The all-rounder, who became the costliest overseas player in this year’s auction, justified his huge price tag with his brilliant all round show. He scored 316 runs including a stunning century against Gujarat Lions in addition to taking 12 wickets to play an integral role in Rising Pune Supergiant’s march to the final.
“I personally think there’s a huge amount that the guys learn over there. I look at how Ben Stokes did, and it wasn’t all consistent, but by the end of it he’d learnt a huge amount about how to play in India, about how to adapt to the conditions in the IPL and what’s required of an overseas player,” said Strauss.
“An overseas player is a difficult one; you’re under pressure, it’s on you – especially when you’ve got a big price tag on your head. I thought Stokes did fantastically. Chris Woakes would have learnt a huge amount in that period as well,” he added.