Image courtesy of: The Guardian
“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”
Former England captain Andrew Strauss has announced that national team players should be allowed to play a full season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) or risk falling behind other countries in the shortest format of the game.
In his new autobiography, Driving Ambition, Strauss admits that England players struggle in Twenty20 Internationals since their players are not allowed to play in the IPL and do not have much time to represent their counties in Twenty20 matches either.
“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),” Strauss writes. “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.
“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.”
Strauss has personally experienced just how much the IPL means to some players, especially England batsman Kevin Pietersen, who was offended to learn that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) do not give IPL games the same priority they do to international matches.
However, Strauss sided with the ECB on the issue, stating that there should be no better feeling for a cricketer than to be representing his country.
“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,” Strauss said.
The former England captain also urged the ECB to focus more of their attention towards ensuring younger players are prepared for the hardships of Test cricket.
“In England, we should have an advantage over other countries because of our long-established domestic structure,” Strauss said. “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.”