The English domestic season gets underway on Thursday with the early stages of the County Championship, but 14 England players are in India preparing for the IPL, which starts the following day. They have varying degrees of IPL experience but there is a common theme among all of them: every player involved will hope to use the tournament to improve in Indian conditions and stake their claim ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
Moeen Ali (Chennai Super Kings)
Chennai's big-money buy at February's auction, Moeen will hope that he can repay the franchise's faith in him and that he can remind England of his worth as a T20 allrounder while he's at it. He has been left on the bench for eight T20Is in a row, and has played only 12 of England's last 36 matches in the format, while RCB could only find space for him in their side three times last season. At his best, Moeen remains a destructive batsman - particularly against spin in the middle overs - and a handy offspinner. Does Chennai's willingness to spend as much as they did on him indicate that he will be given the opportunity to prove it?
Price tag INR 7 crore (£680,000 approx.)
IPL history Royal Challengers Bangalore (2018-20), Chennai Super Kings (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 167; Inns: 158; Runs: 3513; Avg: 24.73; SR: 140.18 | Wickets 110; Avg: 26.96; Econ: 7.68
IPL stats Matches: 19; Inns: 17; Runs: 309; Avg: 20.60; SR: 158.46 | Wickets 10; Avg: 30.80; Econ: 7.13
Recent form Parsimonious bowling slipped under the radar during the ODI series in India, while he made two good starts with the bat but failed to press on. T20 opportunities have been scarce in the last 12 months.
Jofra Archer (Rajasthan Royals)
Last season's MVP. There is no doubting Archer's ability as a T20 bowler, but there are concerns around his fitness. He is certain to miss Rajasthan's first four matches following hand surgery and an elbow injection on his return to the UK, but the franchise remain optimistic about his chances of playing a part in the rest of the tournament. England would love him to spend another season playing in Indian conditions ahead of the T20 World Cup, but will also want to ensure he is mentally and physically fresh when that tournament and the Ashes series that follows arrive. Archer was Rajasthan's powerplay banker last season, and chipped in with some impressive lower-order hitting, too.
Price tag INR 7.2 crore (£700,000 approx.)
IPL history Rajasthan Royals (2018-21)
T20 stats Matches: 120; Inns: 61; Runs: 551; Avg: 17.21; SR: 147.72 | Wickets: 153; Avg: 22.39; Econ: 7.66
IPL stats Matches: 35; Inns: 23; Runs: 195; Avg: 15.00; SR: 157.25 | Wickets: 46; Avg: 21.32; Econ 7.13
Recent form England's leading wicket-taker in the T20I series against India despite having to manage his injuries throughout, while conceding only 7.75 runs per over. At the top of his game.
Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
A revelation opening the batting alongside David Warner in his debut IPL season, Bairstow was unfortunate to slip out of the side midway through Sunrisers' 2020 campaign, squeezed out to accommodate Kane Williamson in the middle order. Bairstow's own form in an England shirt since moving down to No. 4 in T20Is has been excellent, to the extent that he may well be considered in that role this season.
Price tag INR 2.2 crore (£210,000 approx.)
IPL history Sunrisers Hyderabad (2019-21)
T20 stats Matches: 141; Inns: 128; Runs: 3093; Avg: 29.17; SR: 134.59
IPL stats Matches: 21; Inns: 21; Runs: 790; Avg: 41.57; SR: 142.34
Recent form At his explosive best in the ODI series against India. Some handy contributions in the T20I series without making a half-century.
Sam Billings (Delhi Capitals)
Back at Delhi for the first time since 2017, Billings is competing with Steven Smith, Shimron Hetmyer and Marcus Stoinis for two overseas slots in the middle order. Opportunities could be limited with that level of competition, but a strong showing would ensure further chances in the England side ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Price tag INR 2 crore (£195,000)
IPL history Delhi Daredevils (2016-17), Chennai Super Kings (2018-19), Delhi Capitals (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 187; Inns: 175; Runs: 3527; Avg: 23.67; SR: 131.01
IPL stats Matches: 22; Inns: 19; Runs: 334; Avg: 17.57; SR: 133.60
Recent form Excellent Big Bash season for Sydney Thunder but a sprained collarbone in the first ODI in India cost him the opportunity to back that up.
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals)
He is locked in as England's opener for the T20 World Cup, but where will Buttler bat for Rajasthan? Last season, he shuffled down from the top into the middle order with some success but could not prevent them from finishing bottom of the pile; this year, with Smith and Robin Uthappa both let go, there might be a temptation to open with him and Ben Stokes, even if it leaves an inexperienced middle order behind them.
Price tag INR 4.4 crore (£430,000 approx.)
IPL history Mumbai Indians (2016-17), Rajasthan Royals (2018-21)
T20 stats Matches: 275; Inns: 253; Runs: 6499; Avg: 31.39; SR: 144.77
IPL stats Matches: 58; Inns: 57; Runs: 1714; Avg: 34.97; SR: 149.56
Recent form Leading run-scorer for England in the T20I series in India, including a masterful 83 not out in the third fixture, but only 17 runs in three innings in the ODIs that followed.
Sam Curran (Chennai Super Kings)
Following a mixed bag of a debut season in Kings XI Punjab colours, Curran was the shining light for Chennai Super Kings in an otherwise disastrous 2020 campaign, which saw them fail to reach the play-offs for the first time. He was used in a number of different roles by MS Dhoni with both bat and ball, and after struggling to impose himself during England's most recent T20I series, he has a point to prove ahead of the World Cup later this year.
Price tag INR 5.5 crore (£535,000 approx.)
IPL history Kings XI Punjab (2019), Chennai Super Kings (2020-21)
T20 stats Matches: 91; Inns: 71; Runs: 1055; Avg: 19.53; SR: 131.54 | Wickets 81; Avg: 29.83; Econ: 8.58
IPL stats Matches: 23; Inns: 19; Runs: 281; Avg: 23.41; SR: 143.36 | Wickets 23; Avg: 29.00; Econ: 8.89
Recent form Largely anonymous during the T20I series in India, but smoked a valiant, unbeaten 95 off 83 balls as England came agonisingly close to a from-behind win in the ODI series decider. Relatively tight with the ball throughout the tour.
Tom Curran (Delhi Capitals)
The eldest Curran brother's stock has fallen in the last year, to the extent that he is clinging onto his spot in England's T20 World Cup squad. He had a torrid time bowling at Sharjah for Rajasthan Royals last year but Delhi happily splashed out for him, winning a bidding war with Sunrisers Hyderabad in February's auction.
Price tag INR 5.25 crore (£510,000 approx.)
IPL history Kolkata Knight Riders (2018), Rajasthan Royals (2020), Delhi Capitals (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 135; Inns: 76; Runs: 972; Avg: 19.83; SR: 132.42 | Wickets 157; Avg: 25.50; Econ: 8.86
IPL stats Matches: 10; Inns: 8; Runs: 106; Avg: 26.50; SR: 117.77 | Wickets 9; Avg: 36.22; Econ: 11.50
Recent form Expensive throughout the tour of India, with his slower balls becoming increasingly predictable.
Chris Jordan (Punjab Kings)
Now in his fifth IPL season, Jordan is back with the re-branded Punjab Kings as overseas fast-bowling cover. The franchise splashed out on two overseas quicks in Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith at the auction, suggesting Jordan is likely to start on the bench. He had a mixed 2020 season, finding form through the middle as Kings XI found their feet but leaking runs at the beginning and end of the tournament.
Price tag INR 3 crore (£290,000 approx.)
IPL history Royal Challengers Bangalore (2016), Sunrisers Hyderabad (2017-18), Kings XI Punjab (2020), Punjab Kings (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 217; Inns: 129; Runs: 1075; Avg: 13.96; SR: 117.87 | Wickets: 229; Avg: 27.11; Econ: 8.60
IPL stats Matches: 20; Inns: 7; Runs: 32; Avg: 6.40; SR: 88.88 | Wickets: 21; Avg: 28.11; Econ: 9.33
Recent form Leaked 10.51 runs an over in England's T20I series in India. Has not been at his best since bicep surgery last year.
Liam Livingstone (Rajasthan Royals)
The fourth member of Rajasthan's English contingent, Livingstone is back for his second IPL season after playing four games for the Royals in 2019. He may well have to content with some more time on the bench this year, but Archer's injury could provide him with a chance in the first few games of the season.
Price tag INR 0.75 crore (£70,000 approx.)
IPL history Rajasthan Royals (2019, 2021)
T20 stats Matches: 128; Inns: 123; Runs: 3133; Avg: 27.48; SR: 140.36 | Wickets: 47; Avg: 18.06; Econ: 7.93
IPL stats Matches: 4; Inns: 4; Runs: 70; Avg: 23.33; SR: 145.83 | Wickets: 0; Avg: N/A; Econ: 13.00
Recent form Two eye-catching cameos in the ODI series in India - the only games he has played since an impressive Big Bash season for Perth Scorchers.
Dawid Malan (Punjab Kings)
Playing his first IPL season at the age of 33 on the back of his superb T20I record for England. Malan is likely to start on the bench, with Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran ahead of him in Punjab's pecking order, but will have to prove he can adapt to Indian pitches if he does get a chance: against spin in the T20I series last month, he scored at a strike rate of 79.48 and was dismissed every 13 balls.
Price tag INR 1.5 crore (£145,000 approx.)
IPL history Punjab Kings (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 228; Inns: 223; Runs: 6265; Avg: 33.32; SR: 128.40
IPL stats Matches: 0
Recent form Found a way to score runs during the T20I and ODI series in India but not at his fluent best. Struggled to make an impact in the BBL for Hobart Hurricanes but impressed throughout England's T20Is in 2020.
Eoin Morgan (Kolkata Knight Riders)
After going unsold in consecutive auctions, Morgan returned to the IPL in 2020 and had his most prolific year in the competition, hitting 418 runs with a healthy strike rate of 138.41. He took over the captaincy from Dinesh Karthik halfway through the season, and his influence on the franchise in a captain-coach partnership with close friend Brendon McCullum has been obvious, as evidenced by the recruitment of England white-ball analyst Nathan Leamon for this season. KKR struggled to nail down roles for Morgan, Karthik and Andre Russell last season, with all three ideally suited to the death overs, and Morgan may need to shift up to No. 4 more regularly this year, even if that means facing more spin.
Price tag INR 5.25 crore (£510,000 approx.)
IPL history Royal Challengers Bangalore (2010), Kolkata Knight Riders (2011-13, 2020-21), Sunrisers Hyderabad (2015-16), Kings XI Punjab (2017)
T20 stats Matches: 312; Inns: 295; Runs: 6912; Avg: 27.42; SR: 132.82
IPL stats Matches: 66; Inns: 59; Runs: 1272; Avg: 25.44; SR: 126.31
Recent form Struggled for rhythm in the T20I series against India and split the webbing in his hand in the first ODI, ruling him out for the following two fixtures. He had been in the best form of his T20 career in the 18 months leading up to that tour, but has generally struggled on slower pitches in India.
Jason Roy (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
A late replacement for Mitchell Marsh, Roy will provide cover for Sunrisers' overseas top-order batsmen. Opportunities in the IPL have been sporadic for him, but with a T20 World Cup looming, two months against top-quality spinners in the nets in India will provide more relevant experience than some early-season County Championship games.
Price tag INR 2 crore (£195,000 approx.)
IPL history Gujarat Lions (2017), Delhi Daredevils (2018), Sunrisers Hyderabad (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 235; Inns: 230; Runs: 6085; Avg: 27.78; SR: 142.47
IPL stats Matches: 8; Inns: 8; Runs: 179; Avg: 29.83; SR: 133.58
Recent form Three scores in the 40s in the T20Is in India. Ultra-attacking against spin without too much timing, but looked more fluent in the ODIs.
Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals)
Stokes' role in the England side was a major talking point in their T20I series defeat in India as he struggled to make a significant impact on games from the middle order despite hitting 46 off 23 in the fourth fixture. The theory that he should move up to No. 3 was given further credence by his 52-ball 99 in the second ODI, and while Morgan has insisted that he does not see Stokes moving up the order, another successful season opening for Rajasthan would test the captain's resolve.
Price tag INR 12.5 crore (£1.2m approx.)
IPL history Rising Pune Supergiant (2017), Rajasthan Royals (2018-21)
T20 stats Matches: 139; Inns: 126; Runs: 2752; Avg: 25.96; SR: 136.50 | Wickets 75; Avg: 32.74; Econ: 8.52
IPL stats Matches: 42; Inns: 41; Runs: 920; Avg: 26.28; SR: 135.09 | Wickets 28; Avg: 34.35; Econ: 8.52
Recent form Limited impact in the T20I series but showed off his ability to slip into sixth gear during the ODIs that followed. Bowled regularly throughout the limited-overs leg of the tour and should provide a sixth option for the Royals.
Chris Woakes (Delhi Capitals)
A wildcard buy: Woakes hasn't played T20 cricket for England since 2015, and hasn't played in the format for anyone since August 2018, but Delhi's coach Ricky Ponting is a big fan and retained him despite his withdrawal ahead of the 2020 season. He is likely to spend most of the season on the bench, though may have a chance to prove himself if Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada are unavailable for the Capitals' season opener as anticipated. Expensive in his previous IPL outings.
Price tag INR 1.5 crore (£145,000 approx.)
IPL history Kolkata Knight Riders (2017), Royal Challengers Bangalore (2018), Delhi Capitals (2021)
T20 stats Matches: 111; Inns: 69; Runs: 803; Avg: 24.33; SR: 136.10 | Wickets 121; Avg: 25.12; Econ: 8.38
IPL stats Matches: 18; Inns: 11; Runs: 63; Avg: 10.50; SR: 95.45 | Wickets 25; Avg: 23.04; Econ: 9.24
Recent form None to speak of in T20s - or any format for that matter, after a winter spent warming the bench. Impressive in the ODI series against Australia at the end of last summer, bowling in all three phases of the innings.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98