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English counties buoyed by IPL snub

David Hopps

February 13, 2014

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen signs autographs, Surrey v Sussex, County Championship, Division One, The Oval, 2nd day, April 25, 2013
Kevin Pietersen will be the only England player (or ex England player) signing autographs at IPL © Getty Images
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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.

Porter bemoans England's IPL freeze out

  • Angus Porter, chief executive of the PCA, has bemoaned the absence of England players from IPL in 2014. "There are probably a number of components," Porter said. "Clearly some of them didn't have full availability, and even the ones like Luke Wright who had agreements with their counties were probably going to be required back by England by mid-May.
  • "That is a major factor, and so is the fact that there aren't many English coaches in the IPL - and coaches inevitably go with the players they know, so we lose in that respect. The final point is that we're not exactly on the crest of a wave after what happened in Australia this winter."
  • The agreement hammered out between the PCA and the ECB that players could remain at IPL until May 13, a week before the start of England's international season, has not had the desired effect.
  • "I wouldn't underestimate the importance of our players not being available at the sharp end of the tournament," Porter said. "Even somebody like Kevin Pietersen has benefited hugely in this auction because he is now able to play right the way through."

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

RSS Feeds: David Hopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by jonesy2 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

Posted by BlackCountryCricket 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......

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (February 15, 2014, 6:57 GMT)

Ipl full of 3rd Aussies still?

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (February 15, 2014, 6:55 GMT)

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

Posted by BRUTALANALYST 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.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST 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.

Posted by Jas.Sohd 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.

Posted by CodandChips 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.

Posted by SirViv1973 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.

Posted by PeerieTrow 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.

Posted by PeerieTrow on (February 14, 2014, 12:33 GMT)

Suren Patel, and am not unsympathetic to your argument. In a free and open market you would be 100% correct, however, the counties are the employers of the players to whom you refer and therefore must have the right to a say in how what are essentially their employees behave.

Posted by real_gone_gadd on (February 14, 2014, 12:17 GMT)

The success or not of English TS20 to attract the best players isn't a huge concern - as long as ECB revenues are helping counties prosper in producing high quality first class cricketers, and they get decent crowds for TS20 regardless, everyone should be happy. TS20 just should not be a priority for the ECB.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 12:12 GMT)

ECB trying to boost their own team. Fair enough. However, the counties trying to force players prices is wrong. I'm sure Hales and Wright would have been picked if they weren't at their highest prices.

Dernbach is useless, Shah is past it and rarely performs and cannot run. Bopara is inconsistent.

I think Ben Cutting will be the surprise of the tournament

Posted by PeerieTrow on (February 14, 2014, 11:54 GMT)

In keeping with a large number of England county members and international supporters I've never been that taken with the IPL, BBL or CPL. In their own right they appear to be well structured, but like soccer world-wide, they are essentially well organised businesses with a sports related front end. From the players' perspective I see two attractions: 1. for big names whose career end is looming there is the potential to top up pension pots; 2. for those who have been passed over for selection, didn't quite make it for reasons of skill issues or were around at the 'wrong time' (Ausie leggies when Warne was in his pomp). There must be a place for these T20 constructs as they attract a large following, but it's interesting that in most of the posts in these threads the word "cricket" very rarely crops up. The businessmen could quite easily change the front end to, say, five-a-side football, rugby sevens or 10 lap F1, attract a different audience and still have their lucrative business.

Posted by A.Ak on (February 14, 2014, 11:18 GMT)

English players will never learn to play spin until they play in India/sub-continent. People do just want hey want to do, tests or ODI or t20 (ECB need big money, remember Stanford T20). Having said that, it doesn't matter as we all know what British weather has in offer, haha.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 10:59 GMT)

The fact is that England and India are poles apart in their attitude towards cricket and that attitude get reflected in franchises attitudes in player auctions. Indians like flamboyance in batsmen and hence value T20 and ODIs more. England like dour batsman who are better suited to test cricket. Why else would they drop KP for being reckless? There will always be exceptions but that is the general trend. So to sum it up, England dont have players exciting enough to be picked for IPL. Period. Kevin Pietersen was their best bet and we all saw what he got in IPL. He is always valued in India. Flintoff got great deal when he was available but you dont expect Ian Bell, Luke Wright etc to make the cut. They are not in same class. This is not even about coaches. Australians get picked a lot because Indians like the way they play their cricket even if they are losing. So, I guess, English cricketers should enjoy county and Indians can rejoice in IPL success. That's where cricket is headed.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 14, 2014, 9:52 GMT)

@Parth Choksi on (February 13, 2014, 14:29 GMT) You're absolutely right.. I think I may write to my local MP to see if he can get the clocks etc changed so that our cricket season doesn't clash with IPL so that we can have numerous English players involved in a tournament which is hugely important to our cricket fans. We are so envious of IPL and we have to make do with following our dull county cricket instead. Our selfish counties have no consideration whatsoever for this long standing , traditional tournament

Posted by CricketMaan on (February 14, 2014, 9:35 GMT)

Indians won't play BBL, Englsih won't play IPL. Both for same reason, they clash with domestic season. Period. Having said that, with so many lucrative T20 playes like a Yusuf Pathan or Luke Wright should just focus on this format rather than wasting time in whites. Its simply not thier game. Luke Wright doesnt even get picked for ODIs, so why not give up county and foucs on BBL, IPL and CPL. Will keep him busy and rich.

Posted by zenboomerang on (February 14, 2014, 8:33 GMT)

@CodandChips - The BBL showed that many Eng players were in reasonably good form, Wright was a standout while Kieswetter didn't perform too badly, others were a bit hot/cold. This page is also about domestic cricket so not sure where your other comm is coming from :)

Posted by zenboomerang on (February 14, 2014, 8:30 GMT)

@CodandChips - Think availability is the primary concern. Counties forcing players to go for max money was surely a set-up, with everyone knowing that the IPL contracts would be much less this year + smaller squads. The ECB also swapping the Test/ODI/T20 series against SL was another set-up to force top players out of the IPL. Seems Eng cricket is forcing players away from the IPL to the detriment of the players incomes & playing against top international players in a tough comp...

Posted by jmcilhinney on (February 14, 2014, 3:36 GMT)

@BRUTALANALYST on (February 13, 2014, 21:18 GMT), firstly, Darren Lehmann advised Finch to play for Yorkshire and doing as your national coach suggests can never be bad for your career. Secondly, Finch may also play some CC and he has ambitions of playing Test cricket so that can't hurt either. Any more questions?

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 2:04 GMT)

David Hopps seems to have an agenda against the reorganisation of the County T20 competition. I have to disagree. The Counties have listened to their memberships and they have made the right decision to go to a competition played on a weekly basis throughout the season. As has been mentioned it means the competition can't be ruined by bad weather, the Championship doesn't get stopped in mid Summer and English people like going to games once a fortnight rather than 4 or 5 games bunched together in a couple of weeks. I think it will be a great success.

In terms of overseas players people in England go and watch County cricket because they like watching cricket and like supporting their County side not to watch a collection of highly paid overseas pros. Loyalty, tradition and regular fixtures are what counts. I can see Friday night T20 being a real success.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (February 13, 2014, 21:18 GMT)

"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"

This comment is petty. West Indies are the World T20 Champions and have been one of the best in the format Internationally and domestically with the biggest names the IPL sides go after. The CPL is a great tournament organised better than any, perfect time frame,top quality local and international players. full stadiums. Why exactly is playing English T20 better for development than playing in the CPL ? The CPL is likely higher standard and if I remember correctly even in the Stanford days the County finalists were smashed by West Indies winners.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 13, 2014, 19:18 GMT)

@200ondebut - You believe that? English players rarely get picked up anyway. If IPL franchises did their homework they'd have watched alot of T20 cricket involving English players and Wright,Hales ,Dernbachand Bopara didn't have great T20/ODI series vs Australia and Bell does not even make the T20 side. Not sure who was picked up in the IPL today but guys like White,Lynne, D Hussey,Van Der Merwe,Nannes and Rutherford are all as good or better T20 players than the above IMO and all went unsold on day 1 . Reckon if Wright/Hales had looked the biz in the recent series with Oz they'd have got a deal.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 13, 2014, 19:16 GMT)

@jwap24 - Wright's 1st half of the BBL was significantly better than the 2nd and Hales seems to have gone off the boil. Both players looked bad in the recent T20 series in Oz

@Capricorn60 - I reckon the schedule doesn't matter that much and I'm not sure any of our T20 specialists are contracted these days. If this is the case then they'd be at liberty to play in the IPL.

@SirViv1973 - Wright played IPL before so I thought he had a chance but he looked poor in the recent series vs Oz. Hales similar and his base price was probably too high for a team to take a punt on a fresher. Stokes' SR as a batsman is significantly worse than his ER as a bowler and if anyone saw how he played spin in the ODIs. Buttler may have gone if he was sensibly priced. Morgan would have gone. Re CW - do you mean CK or if not who do you mean by CW?

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 17:52 GMT)

Please sign some English players next year - I sit watching the IPL on TV each year but have nobody to support!

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 17:43 GMT)

@2.14istherunrate: Well then mate, go and watch your county side. I've never been bored watching Somerset. Aggressive play and some great players. I'd much rather watch Somerset than England. And I will this summer.

Posted by CodandChips on (February 13, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

Primarily, England players were not picked on the following grounds: 1.Lack of talent 2.Lack of availability

As the article states, the more desirable players such as Buttler and Morgan ruled themselves out. Luke Wright has a poor international record, as does Ravi Bopara. Samit Patel is at best a bits and pieces player, and far from the better ones in the country, and there would be many better all-round spinners (or equally as good) in the auction, who would have been cheaper. Jade Dernbach- nuff said. Craig Kieswetter never looked destructive as an international batsman, struggled as a keeper as well.

Not too sure about Ian Bell in T20s- especially considering the way he bats in ODIs. But tbf his strike rate wasn't too bad in the recent series vs Aus, and I think it is more assumed than proven that he can't play T20s. Same with James Anderson, who got forgotten about in T20Is, and can't play domestic T20 therefore never has the opportunity to prove himself.

Posted by Herath-UK on (February 13, 2014, 17:15 GMT)

Non availability is a main factor.Sangakkara played smart & did not throw his name as he won't be available due to England tour. Just like English camp the Sri Lankan too I think quietly celebrating its stars are not playing in the IPL & are available for the England tour.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 13, 2014, 16:47 GMT)

I'm not sure this is an anti ECB thing. As the article states 4 of the most marketable stars BS, JB, SB & EM chose not to put themselves up. If they would have & not got picked up then I would agree something was up. Of those in the auction IB has tried before, he dosen't play T20 for Eng & was only avaialble for 5 wks so was never likley to get picked, availibilty was also the likley reason RB didn't get picked up as he has been playing well in the shorter forms recently. I don't think there was a high demand for keepers & CW's batting alone would make it difficult for him to get a deal. SJ hasn't played Int cricket for close to a decade so no suprise there & anyone who saw JD ball in Aus wouldn't have gone near him. SP & LW may have been a bit unlucky but both r bench signings & as LW says foreign coaches would rather fill their bench with players they are familair with. AH was a bit of a suprise but with the T20 against SRL in May availibility may well have been the issue.

Posted by Basingpiechucker on (February 13, 2014, 16:26 GMT)

Unless the weather changes the start of the County Championship will be a damp squib on wet wickets. New Road at Worcester is under several feet of water and likely to be so for some time.

Posted by jackiethepen on (February 13, 2014, 16:19 GMT)

200ondebut - you have just revealed yourself as not watching cricket. Bell is not a nudger of the ball. In fact Graham Thorpe - who was an excellent nudger - tried to get Bell - who is a boundary hitter - to concentrate on rotating the strike and getting those ones and twos. There has been some improvement. One of Bell's weaknesses is that he likes to attack the ball, sometimes too early, hence the scoffing from fans. But nudger? No. When he had a go at t20 cricket - during the period he was dropped - he turned out to be very aggressive if a bit frantic. His quickest score was 50 off 23 balls.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 15:28 GMT)

@Parth Choksi Do some research, Alex Hales has an agreement with his county Nottinghamshire to release him for the FULL IPL.

With the English T20 moving to weekly, a move I am in favor of as it reduces the risk of the weather ruining the whole competition like it did in 2012, the county's will probably get more balanced overseas players who can play other formats to fill the time. Its a great opportunity for players to get experience in English conditions, Of course Indians would need that because the IPL made them Millionaires

Posted by Capricorn60 on (February 13, 2014, 15:27 GMT)

@jwap24 England play a T20 against the Sri Lankans on the 20th May followed by an ODI seriess - so players like Luke Wright, Alex Hales, Ravi Bopara etc could be recalled by England at that point to play in these matches. Hence as with many of the SL players who all would not be available for the full IPL season, guess this was why they were not bought by any IPL franchise.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (February 13, 2014, 14:57 GMT)

I really hope this snub is over KP. I hope English fans do it in the summer. Well, there is going to be precious little entertainment coming from England this summer. The dullest captain ever leading the dullest team ever....It's embarrassing.

Posted by android_user on (February 13, 2014, 14:29 GMT)

It isn't about england.It is always their crappy counties that don't make playerw available for the entire season. Alex hales would have been picked but knowing their schwdule he and many others were not.Moreover you can only have 4 overseas players in the team which gives the home players more than a chance to participate in ipl. So all of you who are saying they were not picked jsut because they were english are long. There are a bunch of factors that made ipl team owners not choose them.

Posted by sjw2k on (February 13, 2014, 13:30 GMT)

I would imagine that the main factors that the teams would look at when deciding who to bid for would be current form and availabilty. As most of the English contracted players weren't going to be available for most of the IPL there were not going to be picked. Also, after the thrashing we got from the Aussies during the T20 series who would pick bowlers who were getting smacked around the ground and batsmen who aren't scoring the runs?

Posted by jwap24 on (February 13, 2014, 13:29 GMT)

I don't understand why only KP has been signed up, Luke Wright was in the Big Bash Team of the year, Alex Hales is 2nd in the rankings for the Best Twenty 20 batsman, can someone please explain......?

Posted by Narkovian on (February 13, 2014, 13:27 GMT)

OK so its good for county cricket. Us English cricket fans can ignore IPL, which we mostly do anyway... sorry IND that's just the way it is. Don't expect Indian fans bother too much following English cricket either ! But KP.. well... So he might turn out for a couple of County games might he. Oh how generous of him. If I was a regular Surrey county player i would probably rather he didn't bother. I see yet more dressing room problems coming up there. Prima donnas are never popular.

Posted by 200ondebut on (February 13, 2014, 13:26 GMT)

This is a clear snub to the ECB based on the way they have treated KP. It is also a striking indication of his worth to England in all formats and what English fans will sadly miss.

Still we'll have Belly and Cook nudging it around to look forward to (not to mention Cooky's prep school ring fields) - yippee!

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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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