There has been speculation that the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) would look to rescheduled the suspended Indian Premier League 2021 later in the year. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said that the chances of IPL taking place in India are very less. However, if a rescheduled IPL 2021 does take place, the availability of English players would be a doubt.
ECB Director of Cricket Ashley Giles has said that England have a busy international schedule from June onwards and the players are unlikely to be available for the remainder of the suspended IPL if the T20 tournament is rescheduled this year.
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The IPL was suspended last week after multiple COVID-19 cases inside its bio-bubble. There are two windows for the T20 event to be resumed this year — one is in the second half of September and before the T20 World Cup (October-November) and the other is after mid-November.
But England’s top players will be in action at both times. They have tours to Bangladesh and Pakistan in September and October, while they will compete with Australia at the Ashes right after the T20 World Cup.
“We’re planning on involvement of England players in England matches. We’ve got a full FTP schedule. So if those tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh are going ahead, I’d expect the players to be there,” Giles said as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
There were 11 Englishman in various franchises in the suspended IPL.
“None of us knows what a rearranged IPL looks like at the moment, where it’s going to be or when. But from when we start this summer against New Zealand, our programme is incredibly busy,” Giles said.
“We’ve got a lot of important, high-profile cricket including the T20 World Cup and the Ashes. And we’re going to have to look after our players.”
Giles dismissed suggestion that this signals a change in approach from the ECB as the management had earlier allowed up to a dozen players to miss the Test series against New Zealand at the start of June due to their involvement in the IPL.
“The New Zealand scenario was very different. Those Test matches were formalised at the end of January, by which time all those contracts and NOCs (no objection certificates) were signed for full involvement in the IPL.”
Giles expressed hope that players would be allowed “a bit more freedom” from bio-bubbles as the England summer progresses. The Test players are likely to enter their latest bubble from around May 28.
He is also keen to see England players appearing in the Hundred which starts on July 21 and runs until August 21. England’s Test series against India is scheduled to start in Nottingham on August 4.
“We’d love them to be involved in the Hundred at some point and the launch of that competition. It would be great to have our best players playing in it. But we’ll have to look at workloads very carefully.”
Giles also hinted that England will look to try some new faces against New Zealand.
“What we do know, and what’s not going to change, is the weight of cricket. Given the Ashes series (this winter), we don’t know what conditions that’s going to be played in at the moment with regard to a Covid environment, but we are going to need a bigger group of players still,” he said.
“We may also choose against New Zealand to look at some new faces. With the amount of other cricket we have to play, we almost want to get this tapering towards the Ashes. We have got to get that right.
“Is that against New Zealand? I don’t know, that’s something for us to continue to discuss.”
(with PTI inputs)

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