Kevin Pietersen's future has been pushed further into doubt with his IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils deciding not to retain any of their players.
Pietersen, who has a cloud hanging over his international career after a difficult Ashes series and reported rift with team director Andy Flower, was expected to be retained for IPL 2014 but Daredevils have instead chosen to build a new team.
Delhi tweeted: "DD will not be retaining any player from the previous squad for IPL-7. It was a unanimous decision by the management in order to build a fresh team that our fans will be proud of DD."
It is understood that Daredevils, who finished bottom of the IPL last season which Pietersen missed with a knee injury, were in negotiations with Pietersen and fellow star attractions Virender Sehwag and David Warner but the talks fell through with the franchise not willing to meet the price requested by the players.
Pietersen will now have to enter the auction, on February 12 and 13, for the seventh season of IPL. If he chooses not to, he would become available for the first half of Surrey's County Championship campaign ahead of the first Test of the English summer on June 12 against Sri Lanka.
Missing the tournament would send a clear message to the England management that Pietersen is still committed to international cricket. Pietersen, who has already tweeted his strong desire to remain an international player, will regard that as a gesture that he has no cause to make.
It is therefore highly likely that Pietersen, who previously requested more time to be made available for England players to take part in the IPL, will take advantage of the ECB's decision to shift back the first Test of the summer.
In a deal sealed in new central contracts which were not signed until England left for the Ashes tour, the agreed cut-off date for England players to return ahead of the international programme is May 13, which would give them seven days preparation ahead of the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
The IPL will also test the ambitions of Eoin Morgan, who is keen to return to Test cricket. Morgan has previously opted to play in the IPL and miss a large chunk of the English season. Last year he played for Kolkata Knight Riders and scored 307 runs at 27.90.
Morgan has played 16 Tests for England, the last in February 2012, but is still unproven in red-ball cricket with a first-class average of 34.45. Commitment to Championship cricket is surely a requisite for him to be considered for Test cricket again.
Jos Buttler is another England player who could be considered for Test duty but whose T20 talent should make him in-demand for the IPL. Ben Stokes, who has emerged as England's allrounder in all formats, is not expected to enter the auction.