Ben Stokes is the latest England cricketer to set his heart on a spell in the Indian Premier League and believes the experience could help take him to the next level.
All-rounder Stokes has put himself forward for the February 4 draft hoping to snare a lucrative contract and some priceless experience in one of the world’s premier T20 competitions.
The 25-year-old is sure to draw interest given his powerful striking ability, usefulness with ball in hand and electric fielding, but both his asking price and availability could be decisive factors.
Stokes could push for the top reserve banding of around £238,000, pro-rata, and has the perfect chance to showcase his credentials during the limited-overs tour of India, which begins in earnest with Sunday’s first one-day international.
Team-mates Sam Billings and Jos Buttler are already contracted for IPL 10 and Jason Roy has confirmed his name will also be in the hat in Bangalore next month.
Alex Hales and one-day captain Eoin Morgan, a relative veteran of the tournament but now without a franchise following his release by Sunrisers Hyderabad, are also expected to be in the auction, though all are awaiting confirmation on how long England will allow them to play for.
“I’ve put myself forward for the auction, it’s a good opportunity to go away and experience different competitions,” said Stokes before training at the MCA Stadium, home to one of the IPL’s more luridly named outfits, the Rising Pune Supergiants.
“I’m looking forward to seeing if I get the chance to see what it’s all about.
“In terms of the English summer it’s quite hard to get away and what it’s like to play the foreign T20 leagues. This year’s IPL is a chance for not just myself but other England guys to experience what it’s like and see a different side to T20 cricket rather than just playing in England.
“It’s something we want to happen in England, get a franchise sort of thing, every other country is doing it.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board intends to provide a full list of players going forward for the IPL by the end of next week, a move that would have raised eyebrows in years gone by but now appears consistent with a sea change at the organisation.
Since Andrew Strauss took office as director of cricket and elevated limited-overs cricket to equal status with Tests, there has been a greater willingness to allow contracted internationals to expand their horizons.
Morgan was even given leeway to miss a one-day international against Ireland last summer to continue his IPL experience, but whether the same decision will be made this year remains to be seen.
England have two games lined up against the Irish in early May and, with a Champions Trophy on home soil in June, might wish to field full-strength sides.
Anyone selected for those games would need to be back for May 1 but that would seriously compromise their attractiveness for the IPL.
The players themselves may prefer to stay with their new franchises, learning new skills, picking the brains of new colleagues and earning a pretty penny to boot. Stokes insists there is no conflict of interest but is emphatic about the benefits of an extended stay on the sub-continent.
“If they (the ECB) feel it’s best for the England guys who go to stay out then we’ll follow that. If they want us to come back and report for England, which is our job, then we’ll come back and have no complaints either way,” he said.
“If you look at the guys who’ve gone away and played in the franchise cricket in Australia and India, they’ve all come back and said really good things and that it massively helped their cricket.
“They’ve all come away (with) really good experiences and said they’ve come back better players for doing it.”