The auction for the 2014 Indian Premier League took place last week and saw several of the world’s top talents snapped up for hundreds of thousands of dollars by eager franchises.
Apart from Pakistan, all the major Test-playing nations have representatives in the 2014 edition. It just so happens that England’s sole representative is a man who appears to have already played his last game in the Three Lions - Kevin Pietersen was signed by the Delhi Daredevils for about £880,000.
Many county stalwarts and England T20 international players were overlooked at the auction, including Ravi Bopara, Graeme Swann and perhaps most surprisingly Luke Wright. Wright has been in good form for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash and has a wealth of T20 experience to draw on, however he may have been dealt a blow by the fact that he would be expected to miss half of the competition to report for England ODI duty in May.
This can probably help explain why a few England players, such as Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, also went unsold. There is also the extra consideration of the dearth of English coaches in the IPL; the coaches tended to look towards their homeland in their bid for overseas firepower during the auction.
Two players who would have been expected to find a club are Samit Patel and Alex Hales. However both players were severely hampered by a new clause in their Nottinghamshire contracts that means that they are allowed to participate in the IPL but only if they enter the auction at the highest base price (US$200,000).
In truth, Nottinghamshire knew that neither man was likely to attract bids at this base price and will have been very happy to retain two of their senior players for the start of the county season. Hales in particular, will be hugely disappointed to have missed out on a chance at the IPL after being the world’s number one T20 batsman for the best part of a year.
The IPL’s loss however, is county cricket’s gain, and in particular the County Championship which has a number of rounds scheduled for April and May.
With the English Test season not due to get underway until June and many of England’s Test regulars not likely to be in Bangladesh for the T20 World Cup, there is a real chance that for the first time in many years, county fans will be treated to the sight of full strength county squads throughout April and May.
There is every chance that Warwickshire could line up with both Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott and Yorkshire with Tim Bresnan and Joe Root. And how often do Lancashire fans get to see Anderson playing for the Red Rose county these days?
With the England Test squad as open as it has been for at least 10 years, the early rounds of the Championship should give selectors a good chance to not only decide on the new players to bring in, but to also run the rule over more experienced players before the first Test against Sri Lanka in June.
© Cricket World 2014