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January 27, 2013
Hugh Morris, England's managing director, has confirmed that the ECB has no intention of relaxing its attitude towards the participation of England players in the IPL as it guards the status of its own Test programme in ongoing contractual negotiations for the country's top players.
Negotiations have begun on England's revised central contracts which will become operational in September and any pressure from players' representatives to relax attitudes about England players competing in IPL in preference to the opening Test of ther summer will be resisted.
Morris has restated that the policy to protect the English Test season will continue. "It's critical if England are playing international cricket that our best players are available," Morris told The Independent. "The principle of players being available to play for England first and foremost has got to be central."
As the player auction for the 2013 IPL season approaches, a small handful of England players will be in with a chance of competing for a contract. But interest from the franchises is not likely to rise if England players can only make appearances for part of the tournament.
Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan already have deals with IPL sides, while Matt Prior, Monty Panesar and Ravi Bopara have been given permission to appear in the auction. Of those, only Pietersen is a regular in all three international formats and England players expected to be involved in the first Test of the summer against New Zealand, which begins on May 16, will be required to curtail their IPL stay in order to be available for one county match beforehand.
The IPL, which this year goes on until May 26, cuts deep into the England international season, which tradionally begins with a short Test series in mid-May. Nottinghamshire have also become the first English county to refuse its players permision to partake in IPL to protect a county season which starts in the second week of April, a decision which will leave the best county players looking more closely at their contracts in future.
Very few England players have featured in the IPL, which runs for six-seven weeks from early April, since its inaugural season in 2008. Pietersen and Morgan have both had stints of varying success, while Stuart Broad was contracted to Kings XI Punjab for two seasons without making an appearance, before he was released last year. Several county players, such as Essex's Owais Shah and Ryan ten Doeschate and Sussex's Luke Wright, also have IPL deals.
The England players' body, the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), has called for the ICC and BCCI to negotiate a window for the IPL, which would minimise its disruption, but the BCCI has no appetite for this, confident that it can run the tournament whenever it likes, and for as long as it likes, and still attract enough world-class players to make the it highly successful.
West Indies toured England with an under-strength Test side in 2012, due to players' lucrative IPL commitments, and the same situation may yet affect New Zealand this year. An agreement between West Indies and Sri Lanka has seen their 2013 Test series, scheduled for May, dropped in favour of a limited-overs tri-tournament with India later in the year.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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