Andrew Strauss, the new captain of England, is already facing some rather tough questions as the players continue to avoid signing on the dotted line that pledges them for England because of the lure of the IPL.
Before the Kevin Pietersen- Peter Moores saga blew out of proportion, the IPL was on the agenda for the likes of Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff. One of the problems though has been that while the ECB has granted permission for players for a two week window between 10th and 24th of April to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC), Lalit Modi dictated that no deals would be signed until players made themselves available for at least a four week period.
Now the players have not be able to sign on their central contracts while the matter hangs in the balance. However Strauss has assured that players are professional enough to keep England foremost and urged them not to fall for the IPL lure and compromise time with England. “From the players’ point of view, there are huge opportunities there financially. We need to find a way of marrying the opportunities available to the players and making sure the players are able to commit themselves to playing for England.”
The problem with a three week compromise is that players would only be able to return to England just in time for the first Test against the West Indies at home for the build up of the Ashes. Already England have been hit by the Sri Lankan tour called off with most Sri Lankan players having contracts in the IPL while England players were conspicuous by their absence in the inaugural edition due to their commitments.
Not only would the players be unprepared for the Test series rightaway, but also the ECB would have to answer uncomfortable queries from counties that would demand their players’ availability. But Strauss wants to think otherwise, “I believe the players who will be involved in the IPL are experienced campaigners. They didn’t just turn up yesterday. They know what Test cricket is about and know what preparation they need.”