England players to prioritise national duty over rescheduled Indian T20 League
England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) managing director Ashley Giles has said that the England cricket team’s centrally contracted players are likely to miss the remainder of the COVID-19-hit Indian T20 League 2021 once the cash-rich tournament is rescheduled later this year.
The 14th edition of the Indian T20 League was postponed indefinitely due to the rising number of coronavirus cases inside the bio-bubble of multiple franchises across Delhi and Ahmedabad.
According to sources, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking at two windows for the T20 tournament to be resumed later this year. One option being explored is in the second half of September before the T20 World Cup (October-November) and the other being after mid-November.
However, England are scheduled to visit Bangladesh and Pakistan prior to the T20 World Cup, meaning their international players will be unavailable for their respective franchises.
“We’re planning on involvement of England players in England matches. We’ve got a full FTP (Future Tours Programme) schedule. So if those tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh are going ahead, I’d expect the players to be there,” Giles told ESPNcricinfo.
Earlier, Giles had stated that England players who were involved in the latter stages of the Indian T20 League could skip the two-match Test series against New Zealand, which begins on June 2. However, the ECB seems to have changed their stance since.
"The New Zealand scenario was very different. Those matches were formalised at the end of January, by which time contracts were signed for players to have full involvement in the Indian T20 League,” Giles said.
As many as 11 Englishmen were part of various franchises in the suspended Indian T20 League 2021 with a few players being key to the fortunes of their respective teams. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who scored his maiden Indian T20 League ton before the tournament was suspended, is one such example.
“None of us knows what a rearranged Indian T20 League 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 added.
“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.”
Meanwhile, following the postponement of the Indian T20 League, England internationals Buttler, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali are currently serving their 10-day isolation period in government-approved hotels in the UK.
Featured photo: IPL/BCCI