x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Indian Premier League: English cricketers' patience wearing thin

The England and Wales Cricket Board must allow its contracted players to seek fortunes at the annual Twenty20 league.

England's Michael Lumb, right, is 33 years old and would like to cash in at the IPL given his talent in the shortest version of the game. Marty Melville / AFP
England's Michael Lumb, right, is 33 years old and would like to cash in at the IPL given his talent in the shortest version of the game. Marty Melville / AFP

A few months ago, the Johannesburg-born Michael Lumb was the match-winner for Sydney Sixers in the Champions League Twenty20 final.

Over the years, he has played 14 T20 internationals for England. Alex Hales, his Nottinghamshire teammate, averages 37.42 after 17 games, while maintaining an impressive strike-rate of 134.35.

When the sixth season of the Indian Premier League begins in Kolkata on Wednesday, both men will be thousands of miles away, having been told by their county that they would not be released to play in the event.

Nottinghamshire are looking after their best interests, ensuring that they can put the strongest possible team on the park at the start of the domestic season. But Lumb, who once had a contract with the Rajasthan Royals, and Hales, coveted by many franchises on account of his big-hitting prowess, may not necessarily see it that way.

Lumb is 33, and there will not be too many more big paydays for him. Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, he suggested that more and more English cricketers could contemplate the freelance route if the county cricket-IPL impasse is not resolved soon.

"I think you will see more and more of that with the money being thrown round these leagues, especially among players who don't see themselves playing Test cricket, if the English clubs don't allow their players to go because it clashes with county fixtures," he said.

"I think there is a mood among the players to change things so we do get the opportunity to play. If the rules can be done in such a way that we can take part, we'd like to play. But at the minute that's not going to happen."

After going unsold in the last IPL auction, Matt Prior, who recently saved a Test series for England in New Zealand, had spoken of the sense of disquiet among players over the fixture clashes that compel English players to miss out on the riches offered.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Professional Cricketers Association are in talks over new central contracts, with the IPL situation casting a lengthy shadow.

A player agent told me, recently, that England cricketers look at Glenn Maxwell, bought by Mumbai Indians for US$1 million (Dh3.67m), and Kane Richardson ($700,000 from Pune Warriors) and Chris Morris ($625,000 from Chennai Super Kings) "and it's only natural that they wonder why they're the only ones missing out".

He added: "All the top Australian and South African players are part of it."

Kevin Pietersen's stance last year that he should be allowed to play the full IPL season made him a lightning rod for criticism, especially in the media.

The dressing room discord his comments caused eventually led to him missing a Test against South Africa, but it now seems that more and more players have come round to his way of thinking.

The ECB's telecast deal with Sky in England means that they have to play a certain number of Tests each summer. If an outright revolt is to be prevented, the May Tests may have to be sacrificed.


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