A total of R 30.7 crore was spent on Ben Stokes, Tymal Mills and Chris Woakes at the IPL auction in Bengaluru on Monday. Add Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy, along with Jos Buttler, Sam Billings and Chris Jordan, who have been retained by Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively, and the IPL has an Englishman in each of the eight teams. (IPL auction highlights)
Considering Dimitri Mascarenhas was the only one to play the inaugural edition --- for Rajasthan Royals --- in 2008, this is an incredible change for English cricket. In 2008, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) didn’t allow centrally-contracted players to play the IPL, and over the years, lack of a proper IPL window and international fixtures were blamed for the sporadic participation of English players.
There were exceptions of course with players like Andrew Flintoff (one season for Chennai Super Kings), Stuart Broad (two seasons for Kings XI Punjab) and Paul Collingwood (two seasons each for Delhi and Rajasthan). In between, fringe players like Michael Lumb, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara tried their luck but this is the first time there are so many English cricketers in the IPL.
Three factors worked for English cricketers in the auction. Last year, England reached the final of the World Twenty20 in India. For franchise scouts and officials, that’s a big deal. Secondly, the biggest IPL stars outside India are mostly from Australia, South Africa and West Indies.
Since most of them are retained, there was a growing need to find new Twenty20 experts. England offered that. This is also probably the first time England have an almost clean window for the entire IPL.
To top those factors was the recent tour of India by England. Roy was the second highest scorer in the ODI series while Woakes was the highest wicket-taker. In the T20 series, Joe Root was the highest scorer while Jordan was the second highest-wicket taker. Barring Root, who opted out of the IPL to spend time with his newborn son, everyone has found a team.
The buzz created by them was palpable in the T20 series itself. A Sunrisers Hyderabad official had said there would be a demand for England players depending on the ECB’s plans. “We have to see ECB’s plans, if they allow these players and for how long,” he told HT.
To a Delhi Daredevils official, this IPL would be boring without England players. Perhaps that’s the reason Delhi retained Billings. England may have lost badly on the India tour but Monday’s auction ensured their players were smiling.
(With inputs from Sanjjeev K Samyal)