England news February 13, 2014

English counties buoyed by IPL snub


England's professional circuit was quietly celebrating its good fortune after Kevin Pietersen became the only English-qualified cricketer to win a deal during the two-day IPL auction.

England's wannabe IPL stars must now dig out their woolly hats and prepare for early-season cricket in England in what has now been confirmed as the most appealing start to the County Championship for many years.

Even Pietersen, who won the third-biggest deal when he rejoined Delhi Daredevils for £880,000, will spend a substantial amount of his summer on county grounds. After being effectively sacked by England, he has confirmed his appearance for Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast and might even play a couple of Championship matches.

The counties' delight at the short-term benefits, however, were tempered as Angus Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) warned that the benefits of IPL involvement should not be underestimated and that what has virtually become a siege economy has its pitfalls.

Several English counties are already scouring the list of players who did not win IPL deals in the hope that those rejected players, international commitments permitting, will now give more serious consideration to less lucrative contracts for the NatWest Blast. As the tournament is set to spread over three months to attract a regular Friday night audience, such deals will be far from easy.

Nothing is easy for England's professional circuit in these days of expanding T20 tournaments. If the Championship looks set for a high-profile start - with more places up for grabs in the England team than for many years as a consequence of the Ashes whitewash - T20 has work to do.

The counties now face an additional challenge from the Caribbean Premier League which runs from July 30 to August 24, a tournament where players are confident they can gain richer rewards, with fewer tax issues, for a shorter time - and lie on Caribbean beaches on their off-days. Sri Lanka's top players, who might be regarded as prime targets for English counties, are already eyeing their options in the Caribbean.

That explains Yorkshire's delight at attracting the Australian Aaron Finch, who has put career development ahead of easy money and a few rum punches, and whose signing has left the ticket office besieged by enquiries.

The feeling is growing that unless the ECB uses a modest proportion of its anticipated rise in rights money to subsidise directly counties' costs in attracting T20 players of high pedigree, the NatWest Blast could come under severe pressure in an inaugural season that is crucial to the future of T20 in England. Even counties prepared to gamble on large crowds are inhibited by a salary cap intended to promote a more level playing field and prevent a salary explosion.

The lack of interest by the Indian franchises in England's top players was partly as a result of the fallout from a disastrous Ashes showing, but the biggest influence was more prosaic: it was largely a matter of unavailability.

Four of England's most marketable stars - Eoin Morgan (a late change of heart), Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes -all chose not to put their name forward for the auction so they could concentrate on preparing for England's Test summer - or, in Buttler's case, make the sort of impression with Lancashire in early season that could win a Test debut.

Other England one-day specialists suffered because of a reversing of England's fixture list which sees their international summer begin on May 20 with a one-day series against Sri Lanka. That would have meant that England and Sri Lanka players would be available for only five of the eight weeks at most.

The 2014 IPL has now been confirmed as taking place between April 9 and June 3 (not as much a window as an entire conservatory) and, although India remains the preferred venue, part of the tournament might decamp to South Africa if Indian elections cause security issues.

That fixture reversal undermined the attempts of England short-format specialists such as Luke Wright and Alex Hales to win a deal. Hales, ranked as the No 3 T20 batsman in the world, also suffered from the insistence of his county, Nottinghamshire, that he entered the auction at the highest reserve price of around £200,000.

England's players were routinely ignored. As Ian Bell, Samit Patel, Ravi Bopara, Craig Kieswetter , Jade Dernbach, Rikki Clarke and Simon Jones were offered for sale, the Indian franchise owners could barely raise the energy to shake their heads. Wright put it down partly to a lack of English coaches in the IPL and there is some evidence that coaches do tend to favour their own.

Fifty of the 154 players sold over the last two days hailing from outside India. Essex were braced for inevitable interest in the Netherlands' allrounder Ryan ten Doeschate and in came to pass when he was signed by Kolkata Knight Riders, earning a relatively modest £110,000 for the privilege.

Pietersen is now predominantly a T20 specialist - any other form of the game he plays will be primarily to keep his eye in - and he collected the third biggest deal in the 2014 IPL auction. He will be coached by a fellow South African, Gary Kirsten, who was deemed to be on England's shortlist before he announced that he preferred a more normal home life and to get his rewards faster at the IPL.

Despite the state of flux surrounding the England team, the agreement between the PCA and the ECB still holds; that contracted players are expected back from the IPL around 13 May - a week before the first international fixture of the season.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryn on February 17, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    its simply because there are no good English cricketers out there im afraid. I mean ben stokes was just described as a star. enough said

  • Scott on February 17, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    We are heading for a cricket world of unlimited overs players and one day specialists. There will be players better suited to the traditional form of the game, those who will show their grandkids Ashes and county-winning medals; newspaper clippings of their century at Canterbury 30 years before.... and then there will be the T20 players with the bank balances and the customs stamps in their passports, and their grandkids will say;

    "What the hell is an IPL and where is Bangladesh? You can't even buy a decent car for £200,000 nowadays, Grandad!"

    Which makes it puzzling why everybody at the ECB wants a single coach picking the same players for all three formats of the modern game......

  • ESPN on February 15, 2014, 6:57 GMT

    Ipl full of 3rd Aussies still?

  • ESPN on February 15, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    I thought the WICB was broke? Has the money come from for This improved T20 comp?

  • o on February 15, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    I said on here when it was announced by Notts Hales needed to go for at least 400k he wouldn't be bought. If there's one thing Indians don't like it's being dictated to by England, sad thing is if he was at a base price they would likely have got up to around that price bidding but once the Counties had announced they want that amount of money I knew he'd be snubbed.

  • o on February 15, 2014, 1:15 GMT

    @jmcilhinney Ok makes sense but I read he has just signed for T20 only. Lehman has allegiance to Yorkshire so obviously wants to help them out as they helped him out still no need for author to belittle the Caribbean Competition when he likely doesn't even watch it.

  • Jas on February 14, 2014, 22:23 GMT

    Remember what ECB said about KP "trust issues". Same goes for BCCI and IPL franchises about ECB. I've been a fan of Yorkshire and England all my life and I don't trust ECB. They can call their players back anytime and after two of world's best players exiting mid series probably made franchises lose their faith in young players who haven't well established themselves yet. I really wanted to see some of my favorites in IPL but I think owners made a good business decision cause if I had my team I would want my players for the whole tournament. I was hoping Kieswetter would be picked(availability) but for others I kinda had a bad feeling. But these guys are very talented and after a good FLT20 (looking forward) and another BBL I know next IPL we'll see some English talent as well.

  • Paulo on February 14, 2014, 17:42 GMT

    @zenboomerang I understand what you're saying but I doubt that IPL teams will want to pick players that are proven failures at international level

    @Chomolungma I have no issue with Hales. Get him in the ODI and T20I teams. Perhaps he should give up first class cricket for a while, and focus on improving his white ball game.

  • Dean on February 14, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    @Zenboomerang, I think you make a good point about the ECB decison to play the ltd overs games v SRL in May b4 the tests. Although at the time the decison was made it looked like a move to appease CC players by giving them a longer window in the IPL, the truth is it was quite a shrewd move by the ECB. With the IPL starting later than usual due to the WT20, the 5 wk window on offer was similar to that which had been afforded the players in the past few yrs. By playing the ODIS first the ECB offset the issue of the possible non availibilty of SRL marquee players for the test series. A test series against a weakened SRL in May would struggle to put bums on seats. A weakened ODI team playing in May would not be be such a hard sell & the marquee players would have been back in time for the test matches as the IPL would be over by then. Ironically after what happened in Aus & with axing of KP, very few CC players actually entered the auction & it looks like SRL stars will play both series.

  • Hamish on February 14, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    Suren Patel: apologies, I posted that last before either completing it or complimenting you on your assessment of Dernbach, Shah and Bopara. However, on Wright and the others mentioned in that post I'm with CodandChips. Having watched Hales develop in the counties and watched his progress on the international stage I am yet to be convinced that he fully merits the recent comments on his potential that have come his way. As ever with this game, only time will tell.

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