England’s schedule could allow players to play full IPL season

Participation in entire seven-week league is possible
Players have in the past had to return for home internationals

England players such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler have starred in the Indian Premier League.
England players such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler have starred in the Indian Premier League. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

England’s cricketers look set to be granted full availability for next year’s Indian Premier League – a first since the tournament’s inception in 2008.

In the past 12 editions of the IPL England players have had to fly home early for the start of the home international summer and it is only recently, amid the rise of the one-day team, that such players as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow have truly overcome this issue at the auction.

But, with England’s tour to Sri Lanka due to end on 31 March and their three-Test series at home to West Indies not starting until the first week of June, it now opens up the chance for full participation in the seven-week IPL from early April.

Andrew Strauss, who was director of England cricket until last summer, took a more pragmatic view of the lucrative Twenty20 tournament than his predecessors and worked hard to increase the availability of his players as part of their preparation for the 2019 World Cup.

And with that silverware secured, England’s white-ball focus has switched to the Twenty20 World Cup that is being held in Australia next October. Ashley Giles, the successor to Strauss, recently stated that Test cricket must return to the fore but players believe they will still be allowed to miss the start of the county season.

Eoin Morgan is yet to give a final answer on whether he will lead England into next year’s global tournament after taking time after the World Cup to consider his future. But with the full support of his players and the England and Wales Cricket Board, there is growing optimism over his recommitment.

As a white-ball specialist, Morgan was always due to be clear for the entirety of next year’s IPL. And despite missing out at the last two auctions, the 32-year-old World Cup winner could well return next year as a potential franchise captain.

Brendon McCullum, Morgan’s close friend, was appointed as head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders this week – talk of a reunion has already begun – while Trevor Bayliss, the outgoing England head coach with whom he struck up an excellent relationship, is taking up the reins at Sunrisers Hyderabad.