England say no to IPL clause in new three-year contracts

 

Dharmasala

The Himalayan foothills may be a spectacular place, but if the ECB managing director, Hugh Morris, has his way, few English cricketers will play here again. The only chance they have to return, apart from a conversion to Buddhism, is to earn an Indian Premier League contract. The only chance of that is for the ECB to create an IPL window for senior players when England's new three-year contracts come into force in October.

The Professional Cricketers' Association are negotiating the terms of those contracts with the ECB on behalf of the England players. However, Morris is adamant that the ECB's stance on a provision allowing senior players a clear window to play a full IPL season is non-negotiable. He confirmed that the ECB are not budging.

"It's critical if England are playing international cricket that our best players are available," said Morris. "The principle of players being available to play for England first and foremost has got to be central."

The inability of England's centrally contracted players to commit to a full season makes them unattractive to IPL teams. Kings XI Punjab, who use Dharamsala as a second home, cited Stuart Broad's limited availability when cancelling his £250,000-a-year deal. The 2013 IPL season begins on 3 April and does not finish until 26 May, while England's centrally contracted players are required on 5 May. Only Kevin Pietersen is marquee enough to be signed up for just half a season.

Ian Bell admitted the IPL "is a big attraction", but added: "Obviously it's something everyone would love to play but we have a massive 18 months ahead and all our focus should be on the international game."

If any of Bell's team-mates were hoping to use this one-day series as an IPL shop window, most have failed, with performances more HMV than Harrods. One player who has caught the attention is 22-year-old Joe Root, who yesterday reflected on England's poor showing.

"As a team we're obviously very disappointed. It's nice to score some runs but it always feels better when you come out winning," said Root with an equanimity rare in one so young. Behind such calmness lies the secret of his inexorable rise. "I don't see the point in getting nervous," he said. "As a kid that's what I wanted, to play in the big occasions and play for England."

What a series

Shot of the series: In Kochi, MS Dhoni brought up his 48th ODI half-century with a pillaging four straight back past Steven Finn's head.

Drop of the series: In the fourth game, Kevin Pietersen leapt, juggled and grounded a chance off opener Rohit Sharma on 12. He made 83 and the series was lost.

Delivery of the series: Finn produced the pacer's perfect outswing-inswing combo to flatten Ajinkya Rahane's stumps. Rahane still wakes from Finn-filled nightmares.

Gaffe of the series: Alastair Cook was on 72 in Mohali when umpire Sudhir Asnani gave lbw even though the ball pitched in a different postcode to leg stump.

Ground of the series: From the Lord's replica in Rajkot to Mohali's old-world charm, the cricket has been served on salvers.

Matt Fearon

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