London: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) may decide to pull out its players from the latter part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the team’s preparation for the three-Test series against New Zealand, scheduled to commence at Lord’s on June 2.
Some of the leading England Test cricketers, including pace bowler Mark Wood and middle-order batter Jonny Bairstow, are among the 22 players from the county to have registered for the 10-franchise IPL mega auction next month.
While the IPL schedule hasn’t been announced, it is likely to be held between March 27 and the last week of May, giving absolutely no time for the England Test cricketers to prepare for the home series against the Blackcaps.
If England cricketers play the full duration of the IPL, it would most likely make them unavailable for the Lord’s Test as they would have no preparation whatsoever in red-ball cricket before taking on the reigning World Test champions.
A report in Cricbuzz said on Friday that while “no formal communication” has yet been given to England’s players or the IPL teams about their availability, it is understood that “several franchises have been given an indication that they should plan to lose England players likely to be involved against the Blackcaps before the conclusion of the IPL.”
Besides Bairstow and Wood, several other Test cricketers, including Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Craig Overton, Sam Billings and Dan Lawrence, could also be in the ECB’s scheme of things as they were part of the recently concluded Ashes in Australia. Jos Buttler, who was also Down Under for the five-Test series, has been retained by Rajasthan Royals. England Test skipper Joe Root, all-rounder Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes have ruled themselves out of IPL.
A clear picture will emerge after next month’s auction, depending upon how may England cricketer get picked. But in all likelihood, the ECB would like the players selected for the Tests to play at least one County Championship match (May 19 onwards) before the series against the Kiwis.