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Allow England players time for IPL - Strauss

David Hopps

October 10, 2013

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Alex Hales hits down the ground, England v Australia, 2nd T20, Chester-le-Street, August 31, 2013
Andrew Strauss hopes players like Alex Hales are given time to play in the IPL to develop their skills © Getty Images
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Andrew Strauss, the former England captain, has called for England players to be allowed to play in the IPL or risk falling behind the major cricketing nations in the shorter format of the game.

Strauss contends in his newly-published autobiography, Driving Ambition, that established players are left in limbo when it comes to T20, unable to develop their skills either in IPL or in England's domestic tournament due to non-stop international commitments.

His remarks come as the ECB and players' representatives, led by the Professional Cricketers' Association, seek to conclude an agreement on England central contracts in which the opportunity to play in the IPL has been a major bone of contention.

Strauss, conservative by instinct, writes: "Going to India, surrounding yourself with the best players in the world and learning how to innovate and adapt in vastly different conditions must surely be of huge benefit to players (not to mention the obvious benefits to their bank accounts).

"Unfortunately, the IPL teams are reluctant to select England players, knowing that they will not be available for the whole tournament. In addition the ECB is less-than-keen to see its best assets wandering off to a foreign domestic tournament when they should be getting invaluable rest.

"However, if England are serious about being a force in the international game, one thing the administrators have to look at is creating a window to allow our players to participate. The IPL is not going anywhere and we run the risk of slipping behind other teams in both ODI and Twenty20 cricket if our players don't participate."

Strauss turned down ECB entreaties to apply for the role of managing director of England cricket, which is soon to be vacated by Hugh Morris, the man centrally involved in contract discussions on behalf of the ECB. Instead he will commit most of his energy to his corporate consultancy business. If that spares Strauss from coming up with his own solution to what is arguably the most intractable issue in English cricket, his impatience for change is clear.

"New players coming into the England side in recent years have generally had a reasonable level of experience in the Twenty20 game and have managed to expand their games accordingly.

"What remains a problem, though, is that players who are already part of the England set-up do not play a lot of domestic Twenty20 cricket, so ironically their skills do not continue to develop as much as might be the case. For me, that makes the opportunity for England players to compete in the IPL a really important issue."

England have switched the order of their spring internationals in 2014, preceding the early Test series against Sri Lanka with a mix of T20 and ODIs, which has encouraged the belief that England - and Sri Lanka - players with IPL contracts will be allowed to use IPL as an acceptable warm-up and return for the start of England's international season at the last minute.

Strauss had personal experience of the pressures that IPL has brought to bear on English cricket when he became embroiled in the long-running power struggle between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen in the 2012 South Africa series. Pietersen took offence at the ECB's insistence that his wish to play IPL must always be secondary to his international duties.

For Strauss, England Test cricket remains sacrosanct: "The ECB were unwilling - rightly in my opinion - to let any player either miss or not be properly prepared to play in a Test match to fulfil IPL obligations."

To maintain Test cricket's supremacy, Strauss writes that administrators should place a keener focus on developing cricketers for the five-day game, which the current county system does not best serve; Strauss regarding it as putting volume ahead of intensity - a blow for the ECB which embarks upon its latest restructuring of the county game next season.

"In England, we should have an advantage over other countries because of our long-established domestic structure," he says. "What is desperately needed, in my opinion, is for that structure to move with the times.

"Administrators need to ask themselves, 'What is the best system for producing excellent England cricketers?' As that is where all the revenues for the game come from, rather than 'What is in the best interests of county members?' Looking at it from that standpoint would result in a very different domestic structure from the one we currently employ."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (October 13, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

@ fguy on (October 11, 2013, 10:52 GMT) You're right re the last Ashes series and TBH , apart from the final test , KP was hardly flowing either and I think the conservative attitude comes from the top. To be fair , we also get plenty of snooty comms belittling our domestic competitions and team England as a whole from IPL fans too and many of them say it's jealousy etc so it works both ways. And yes , some Eng posters probably would big up IPL if it was English. But re our test players , I think the only guy who isn't part of our SF set up is Prior and of our test players , only KP would definitely get picked (although Root as a batsman can adapt sometimes and Bairstow is fairly positive if lacking in quality. Swann and Jimmy both went unsold in a previous IPL and I'd say they are prob our best bowlers . Anyway each to his own - all the best

please publish this time - nothing of offence

Posted by landl47 on (October 11, 2013, 22:52 GMT)

I'm not sure that Strauss's argument holds water, for several reasons: first, England hasn't been doing badly in T20Is even with very few players participating in the IPL. They tied with India in India, beat Pakistan in the UAE and have tied the Australians as well as winning the T20 World Cup in 2010 in WI. Second, the T20 side is getting less like the test side every year. Players like Hales, Lumb and Wright are T20 stars but nowhere near the test side. The issue for them is being released by their counties, not by England. Third, how much does England really care how well its T20 side does? 4 home T20Is a year isn't going to make the ECB rich and tests draw much better in England than everywhere else except Australia. 28 sell-out days a year in tests dwarfs the T20I income. The IPL doesn't generate a cent for England.

The players care because of the money. If England makes changes, it's to accommodate them, not please the fans or raise revenue.

Posted by JG2704 on (October 11, 2013, 20:31 GMT)

@ Juiceoftheapple on (October 11, 2013, 12:00 GMT) It'll be interesting to see what the county's stance(s) are re their assets. Last IPL , Notts would not allow Lumb and Hales to play IPL. Morgan will play IPL as per usual and while Carberry was superb in our domestic T20 comp this year , all the IPL franchises would likely have seen of him is what he did for England and that would hardly excite them. It'll be interesting to see how Lancs are with Jos and how Jos stands with IPL. He could do really well out there but if he is backing up his words he won't want to do IPL until he ups his 1st class game and is in the Eng test set up

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (October 11, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

On the face of it Strauss makes sense. But when you look closer: India doesnt rate English batsman so not many of them would be picked, they have a fixation with Australians. They are only likely to pick current Internationals, who have plenty of time in such conditions and spend a lot of time surrounded by the best players in the world already. English county players over 30 years of age are likely to be allowed by their county to play as a 'pension tour' anyway, but the IPL doesnt want them (Stevens/Trego etc.). The core England players have got central contracts that pay very well, and them playing more cricket in India is not going to help their exhaustive schedules (would be nice if they played in English T20!!). Basically that just leaves you Buttler, Hales, Lumb and Morgan, Carberry, whose counties would probably now let them go, plus the Indians dont seem to care about our fast bowlers. So thats yer lot, and basically this is a non issue that isnt really worth the hypothetical

Posted by fguy on (October 11, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

@JG2704 you are one of the best & most balanced commenter whose views i respect. but you have to admit that (with a few exceptions) eng players are too conservative (putting it mildly). this last ashes series was a good prescription for insomnia. if it wasnt for KP i would hazard that england wouldnt be able to manage a run rate better than 1.5 also, i have seen plenty of eng fans constantly commenting very negatively about IPL. no one says that have to love or even like it (guess what : even i watch it only on occasion) but this holier than thou/look down your nose attitude is grating. & i can only imagine it'll get much much worse if/when eng players were to join wholesale. i can bet you if the IPL was a English product these same naysayers would've been saying it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (October 11, 2013, 9:54 GMT)

I would have to disagree with those ind fans who are saying the IPL would not benefit from the inclusion of the best Eng players. Surely the league would be stronger if the best Eng & for that matter Pak players are involved. There are a stack of pretty medicore Aus players who currently get picked up & last season there was a contingent of SRL players who all didn't get a game & were released early. Of our CC players I would imagine only 4 or 5 would be of interest to the franchises. However there are a number of non CC players who would also be of interest but due to county commitments they are unlikley to be allowed to enter the auction. In terms of what Strauss is actually talking about I can't really see how playing IPL is going to improve the techniques of longer fomat specialists but I can see how it may benefit shorter form specialists who play int T20.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (October 11, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

I always laugh when I see the "develop skills in the IPL against the world's best" argument. How's that working for the West Indies and Australian players?

Posted by JG2704 on (October 11, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

@fguy on (October 11, 2013, 1:16 GMT) Nice to see that you know the views of your nation re English cricket as a whole. I admit our test players have been playing some dull cricket and we have a defensive mindset when going into ODIs also. Morgan and KP already regularly do IPLs and would you seriously say that guys like Hales,Buttler and Lumb are dull? Also I don't see English fans on here whining about it. Some of us would like to see our players involved in IPL , to see how they'd get on but I'm sure you could understand that we'd rather see those players playing for the counties we follow. It's a shame IPL and Eng season clashes but ECB can't expect IPL to change it's schedule just for them and with the short summers we get in Eng it's a long time to be without our better players. Others just don't like it. You can't expect it to be everyone's cup of tea

Posted by JG2704 on (October 11, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

@Charlie101 on (October 11, 2013, 7:42 GMT) I think one of the difficulties is also that the Eng management may feel fine about certain CC players going to the IPL but not others - due to workloads/injury niggles etc. I'd say someone like Prior who doesn't play any SF cricket (although his Eng record in SFs isn't that great) would be fine to go and England's management would be fine with that. The problem then is that it could easily spark unrest between players and management when players see Prior being allowed to play while others not so Eng have to make 1 rule for everyone

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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