IP-HELL

Sport

The introduction of Twenty20 leagues such as the Big Bash and the Indian Premier League

have given an incentive for the cricketing elite to concentrate on the shorter forms of the game.

Prospective test match players now often choose to line their pockets by playing in front of cricket

mad nations and boycott participation in the domestic County Championship.

Alex Hales, the world’s highest ranked Twenty20 batsman, has once again excused himself from

county action in order to further his IPL accomplishments, adding to a brand valued at $3bn in

2013.

In light of recent results, this is a cause for concern. Following a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series,

there was hope that some dignity could be salvaged in the shorter form of the game. However,

England have still not achieved a single victory down under and are experiencing their worst winter

under Flower’s management. The failing side continued to disappoint as they snatched defeat from

the jaws of victory last Friday at the Gabba.

Setting a total of 300, hope for a change in fortune was rekindled. A strong bowling performance

from the tourists saw Australia stalling at 244-9 with just 6 overs left. Yet an impressive 10th wicket

partnership launched by James Faulkner ended any chance of defeating the home side.

Faulkner, a member of the IPL’s Rajasthan Royals, smashed 25 runs off his last 7 balls, ending on

an unbeaten 69 and contributing to the highest successful run chase the ground has ever seen.

The IPL is now entering its 7th year and following a contract adjustment by the ECB; England team

members are permitted to participate in the competition from its start until 13 May. After this point

they are required to begin preparations for the summer series versus Sri Lanka. This period would

usually be used to train with county sides which retains a focus on the longer form of the game.

There have been signs that the IPL has taken a back seat in the eyes of certain England

professionals. Jos Butler and Ben Stokes have showed an intention to put their international

careers first by declining the offer of IPL stardom. This action has not been provoked by any public

message from coach Andy Flower and will hopefully encourage more to prioritise their international

reputation over cash.

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