Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98
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Mark Wood has withdrawn his name from the IPL's longlist on the eve of Wednesday's player auction.
It is understood that franchises were told at a briefing in Chennai on Wednesday that Wood had decided to pull out of the auction in order to spend time with his family at home. Wood, who is the father of a young child, was rested for England's first two Tests in India but has returned to the squad ahead of the remaining two matches and the white-ball leg of the tour, which runs until March 28.
Wood had put himself forward at the highest base price (2 crore/£200,000) ahead of the auction, and is understood to have attracted some interest from franchises, but opted to withdraw his name in advance rather than pulling out after selection.
He had previously been lined up by Mumbai Indians as a potential replacement for Lasith Malinga ahead of the 2020 season, but decided not to take up their offer, with the franchise ultimately signing James Pattinson instead. He was signed by Chennai Super Kings for the 2018 season, but played only once, conceding 49 runs in his four overs.
Wood's withdrawal from the IPL shines an unfavourable light on England's central contracts system. Despite being named in squads for England's last five Test series and a long run of involvement in their limited-overs set-up, Wood only holds a white-ball central contract, meaning that he earns significantly less than Test specialists on red-ball deals - not least with match fees and bonuses reportedly cut during the pandemic.
However, while he might normally expect to supplement his income with contracts in franchise tournaments, England's packed schedule in 2021 has left him feeling unable to do so, instead reasoning that he needs to rest ahead of another busy home summer. Given Wood has previously admitted considering pursuing a white-ball-only career, his example may prompt calls for a reformed contract structure, not least with the backdrop of Chris Silverwood, England's head coach, defending the ECB's attitude towards the IPL on Wednesday.
Wood's withdrawal means that there are 16 English players due to go under the hammer in Wednesday's auction, including Dawid Malan, Alex Hales, Moeen Ali, Jason Roy and Adil Rashid. Among those missing are Tom Banton and James Vince, both of whom decided against entering the auction in order to ensure their availability for the start of the County Championship season in April.
Joe Root also declined to put his name forward for the second auction in a row, despite recently re-stating his ambition to force his way into England's T20 World Cup plans.
"I am desperate to be part of an IPL season and hopefully a few more beyond," Root said last week. "[But] with the amount of Test cricket in particular this year, it didn't feel like it was the right time and I didn't feel like I could throw all my energy into it, which I think it deserves."