Australia players to have only limited IPL role
Australia's 2019 World Cup players can expect to have only limited involvement in the IPL if they are able to play at all, after Cricket Australia's interim high performance chief Belinda Clark outlined the governing body's approach to a rare fixture juggle created by the shifting of the tournament to accommodate the May start date of the World Cup.
While negotiations with some Australian players about the possibility of longer-term central contracts to reduce the lure of the IPL will continue for some time, Clark moved quickly to clarify expectations around the availability of players contracted to take part given that its expected start date of March 23 clashes with the end of the domestic season.
No objections certificates will only be granted to players at the conclusion of their state's domestic season, and international players will be required to play in all matches scheduled ahead of the World Cup whether they clash with the IPL or not.
Following on from the end of the Sheffield Shield competition, Australia's ODI team are scheduled to play a 50-over series against Pakistan in the UAE by way of preparation for the World Cup, further limiting opportunities for white-ball players to take up roles in the IPL. And after the final 15-man squad is passed on to the ICC and then announced publicly around April 23, all players are expected to be available for a pre-tournament camp.
These stipulations are believed to have contributed to Kolkata Knight Riders' decision to release Mitchell Starc from his AUD1.8 million IPL deal, given that they leave precious little time for the left-armer, and others such as Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Aaron Finch, or Glenn Maxwell, to play a meaningful role in the annual T20 event.
"In the interest of making Australians proud of our team, we are working hard to ensure their health and match readiness ahead of what will undoubtedly be a huge year in cricket, while respecting the players' interests in playing in the various formats," said Clark, who replaced the outgoing team performance manager Pat Howard this week. "It is a difficult period with the IPL being brought forward to accommodate the Cricket World Cup, and overlapping our domestic season.
"We are committed to respecting the position of the Sheffield Shield, while ensuring Australia's World Cup squad is well prepared for this critical world event, while also ensuring those that are fit to play have opportunity to participate in the IPL. While this is no easy feat, I think we have managed a reasonable balance that will enable the players to consider their options and choose what is right for them and their respective teams.
"We will, as always, assess applications on a case by case basis but it is important the players understand our position in advance, so they have the clarity they need to make personal decisions. It is imperative that we ensure Australia is in the best possible position as we head into the Cricket World Cup and the 2019 Ashes series. This means prioritising our focus on match readiness and the health of our players."
Starc had earlier made it plain that his priorities were Australia's international assignments over the next 12 months, including the home Tests against India, the World Cup and then the Ashes tour of England. "As bowlers we're under no illusion that you can't play every game and it is very important for us to find that red ball form heading into a massive Test series as well," he said.
"I think I've played two T20 games in the last four years. Although it'd be nice to play every game that you can for Australia when available, you've got to look at the bigger picture sometimes and for us it's performing the best we can in Test cricket for Australia. Test cricket is definitely the No. 1 for me, but I'm playing one-day cricket as well and that's another format that I love and we've got a World Cup coming up next year as well.
"I love playing Shield cricket, love playing Test match cricket, you can't play every game on the schedule, it's keeping one eye on what's coming up and that's a massive Test series, so for us its preparing through shield cricket and heading into the back end of the summer come February and March, it's a lot of one-day cricket heading into that World Cup."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig