The Indian Premier League this season is set to lose some sheen right at the peak when the competition will be heading for the decisive round. The World Cup-bound Australian stars will have to head home to prepare for the prestigious quadrennial event.
Cricket Australia, laying to rest the speculation about the availability of its players for the IPL Season 12, has announced that all the members of the ICC World Cup 2019 squad will have to attend a pre-tournament camp in early May. That means players picked to represent Australia in the World Cup next year will have to leave their IPL teams early.
The franchisees in such a scenario will avoid too much reliance on the Australian stars, who will also be late starters as Australia’s ODI series against Pakistan will clash with the early phase of the IPL.
Cricket Australia has also expressed a concern over advancing the IPL season to steer clear of the World Cup start. The advanced start toward the second fortnight of March will also clash with the Australian domestic season. The Kangaroos also have a One-Day International series against Pakistan, starting in the second half of March.
Dates for the IPL are yet to be confirmed, but cricket’s richest professional competition will be played between March and mid-May.
“It is a difficult period with the IPL being brought forward to accommodate the Cricket World Cup, and overlapping our domestic season,” Cricket Australia’s Interim EGM Team Performance, Belinda Clark, has said.
“We are committed to respecting the position of the Sheffield Shield, while ensuring Australia’s World Cup squad is well prepared for this critical world event, while also ensuring those that are fit to play have opportunity to participate in the IPL. While this is no easy feat, I think we have managed a reasonable balance that will enable the players to consider their options and choose what is right for them and their respective teams.
“We will, as always, assess applications on a case by case basis but it is important the players understand our position in advance, so they have the clarity they need to make personal decisions. It is imperative that we ensure Australia is in the best possible position as we head into the Cricket World Cup and the 2019 Ashes series. This means prioritising our focus on match readiness and the health of our players,” adds Belinda.
The Cricket Australia stand will also have a certain bearing on the franchisees decision to retain, release and pick the Australian players. Former Australia opener Simon Katich, who was part of the coaching staff at Kolkata Knight Riders, has expressed fears that the franchises are becoming wary of signing big-name Australian bowlers.
“In the past few years, a lot of the Australian quicks haven’t gone to the IPL or pulled out late,” Katich has told Australian publication SEN. “As a result, the IPL franchises are across this now they’re wary (of) it. A lot of the decisions coming up in the IPL auction in December will be based around the World Cup and those guys who are available, particularly around the quicks. We knew it was a big risk (for KKR to buy Starc). He didn’t come … and as a result, it affected the whole dynamic of the squad.”
Cummins, in a bid to get compensated for giving IPL a bye, has been seeking a long-term (five-year) contract from Cricket Australia.
“The IPL franchises will protect themselves going forward,” a report by cricket.com.au has stated Katich as saying. “And a lot of the Australian quicks might not have that same bargaining chip up their sleeve as they once did now that this has unfolded and Cricket Australia might be able to hold firm with that.
“It’s not like the players can go and play for another country. Unless it’s a player who potentially might go down the T20 freelance path, that’s where Cricket Australia need to make a decision about whether they want that player in our system or if they’re potentially going to lose them to leagues around the world.”
An early IPL is expected to finish in the third week of May, that leaves the players with less than two weeks to rest or prepare for the World Cup.
Fearing exertion to the fast bowlers, Indian skipper Virat Kohli had advised that the BCCI advises the Word Cup bound pacers to skip the IPL and compensate them for their franchisee contracts. The advice has not gone down well with the franchisees.
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