While Australia’s Pat Cummins opted out of this year’s Indian Premier League, citing the busy international schedule, Ben Stokes has had a pain-killing injection to ensure he can play in the latest edition of cricket’s most lucrative tournament.
With an Ashes series beginning in June, the differing stances of the opposing captains is stark. Yet while the long-standing issue with Stokes’ left knee is a concern ahead of the summer, there is plenty to gain for the other England players in this year’s IPL, which starts on Friday, especially with a 50-over World Cup at the end of the year.
Perhaps the player with the most to gain – in both financial and cricketing terms – is Sam Curran. After landing a £1.95m deal with Punjab Kings in December’s auction, the 24-year-old all-rounder has become the most expensive player in IPL history.
Curran’s status is no surprise given he was man of the tournament when England won the Men’s T20 World Cup last November. He is no stranger to the IPL either, having made his debut in the tournament in 2019. But the weight of that price tag means Curran faces an altogether different challenge this year.
How he handles the pressure to perform given that huge contract will be very instructive to England’s selectors and white-ball coach Matthew Mott, as Curran has become a regular in the ODI side over the past year. Rising to the challenge against elite opposition in this year’s IPL means he will surely become a lock in England’s XI for the 50-over World Cup they will defend in India this autumn.
Yes, it’s a different format, yet it’s still white-ball cricket and the ability to show you can perform under pressure in the same country that the World Cup will be played in would lay down one hell of a marker.
The same can be said of Harry Brook, who became an overnight millionaire when he landed a £1.3m deal with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Brook’s stunning start to international cricket, ironically in Tests where he has constantly flirted with Gilbert Jessop’s record for the fastest England century, got him that contract.
Indeed, he had by his own admission a poor T20 World Cup in Australia despite being part of that victorious XI.
England Test players in the IPL
Ben Stokes (Chennai Super Kings)
First game: vs Gujarat Titans, Friday March 31, 3pm BST
Harry Brook (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
First game: vs Rajasthan Royals, Sunday 2 April, 11am
Jofra Archer (Mumbai Indians)
First game: vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunday 2 April, 3pm
Mark Wood (Lucknow Super Giants)
First game: vs Delhi Capitals, Saturday 1 April, 3pm
Joe Root (Rajasthan Royals)
First game: vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, Sunday 2 April, 11am
Sam Curran (Punjab Kings)
First game: vs Kolkata Knight Riders, Saturday 1 April, 11am
Other England stars:
Liam Livingstone (Punjab Kings)
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals)
Moeen Ali (Chennai Super Kings)
Phil Salt (Delhi Capitals)
Reece Topley (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Adil Rashid (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
David Willey (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
And the Aussie Ashes stars in the IPL…
- David Warner (Delhi Capitals)
- Cameron Green (Mumbai Indians)
- Josh Hazlewood (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Brook has come a long way in the past year but his time in India, where he has never played a senior game, will surely only improve him as a batter ahead of the Ashes and the World Cup.
Joe Root was a bargain basement £125,000 signing for Rajasthan Royals and how much the former England captain will play is debatable. Yet even though he has vast experience of India, working on his white-ball game for an intensive period in the same conditions the World Cup will be played in can’t be a bad thing for a man who will key to England’s hopes in that tournament.
There may be less to gain for Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, the two fast bowlers England are hoping will play a major role in the Ashes. Both are on hefty deals and while Archer will want to build up his workloads after recently coming back from major injuries, England will be desperate for both to come through the tournament unscathed.
Up to 12 players who are likely to be in England’s World Cup squad will be involved in the IPL. That’s a sign of the sheer depth of the country’s white-ball talent pool. England fans probably view that as both a curse and a blessing.