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'I will be playing on April 20': Stokes, Richardson and Buttler hopeful about IPL 2020


Uncertainty may be looming large over IPL 2020 with India under a 21-day lockdown, but the likes of Ben Stokes, Kane Richardson and Jos Buttler are still hopeful of an IPL season, albeit a shortened one.

Ben Stokes, who was last in Sri Lanka for a Test series which had to be cancelled even before the first official Test could begin, is still hopeful that the IPL will see some cricket in this season. Stokes was picked by Rajstahn Royals for IPL 2018 at almost £1.4 million and has stayed at the franchise since.

Although the all-rounder concedes that the probability of it happening is low, he says that he has to think that way in order to keep himself physically and mentally ready.

"At the moment my next competitive cricket is going to be in the IPL. That hasn't changed yet so I have to think I will be playing on April 20," Stokes said. "I have to get my head round that I am playing even though in the back of my mind I know I am probably not. I have to build up and get myself physically in a position that if it does happen I am good to go. I cannot take three weeks off and expect the body to be ready for April 20 because it doesn't work like that. It might happen and if it does I don't want to be behind."

Stokes said that he knows that even in the case that IPL gets a green light, there will be a lot of advice coming his way and that of other players, but emphasised that they will have to pick the most sensible option, "There will be a lot of advice given to us and if it was an option to go we will have to take the sensible one."

"I remember the day that we got told we were leaving Sri Lanka and it was midway through a warm-up game. Everyone was shell-shocked for half an hour in the changing room. It was such a weird feeling because we had been there for 10-12 days. We were building up to the first Test and then we were going home. But when you put everything together in terms of where the world was with the coronavirus, and what was being said on tour, it was the wrong place to be at that time and everyone's health is more important than anything else in the world," Stokes was candid in his opinion.

Stokes' England teammate and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, despite acknowledging the gravity of the situation, is still hopeful of a shortened IPL season.

"No news at the moment," Buttler said. "We saw, initially, that it was going to be postponed. It's very hard to see this changing in the immediate future, so I don't see that as a possibility at the moment. Obviously, it's such a massive tournament for world cricket, so hopefully some of it can go ahead - perhaps a shortened tournament."

Buttler, who is currently training indoors with the ECB sending fitness equipment and a personalised training regime to its centrally contracted players, is trying to look at the current situation with a positive spectacle.

"Obviously, very strange circumstances, but it's actually quite nice to spend some time at home, be with our little girl and actually just be a dad for a bit. I've also been doing some Pilates with my Mrs, in my cricket gear. The calendar is always so busy, so you're trying to find times when you can get a bit of a break, so I'm trying to use the time as a positive - although, of course, it's really unfortunate circumstances and very tough for everyone."

Apart from a handful of English players, a total of 17 Australian players are supposed to be a part of IPL Season 13, with Kane Richardson set to ply his trade for the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). He was bought for Rs 4 crore (£ 4,38,823) in the auction held in December but as things stand, Richardson might see himself lose out on that money if the COVID-19 situation doesn't improve.

Interestingly, Richardson had to be quarantined after he showed flu-like symptoms. Although his coronavirus test results came negative, the pacer had to be kept in isolation until the results were out.

"We're just waiting to hear," Richardson said. "A lot of the blokes have opinions - 'it's going to get cancelled', this and that - but again it can change in a day or a week, so I'll just sit by the phone and get ready to play for the 15th at the moment - that's what I'm thinking.”

Several Australian players have bagged lucrative deals in the IPL 2020 auction, with Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell among the biggest beneficiaries. With there being no certainty, Richardson admitted that the fate of the IPL has been discussed quite actively among the Australian players.

"(The Australia squad) were all sitting around chatting about it. It's happened out of nowhere. A lot of us were going to be away from now till the end of the IPL, so to now be sitting at home with absolutely no idea when the next game of cricket is going to be for any of us, just shows how quickly this has grown,” he said.

The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League was initially supposed to start on March 29 but has been postponed until April 15. With India entering a 21-day lockdown which will only end on April 14, it is highly unlikely that the tournament will begin in the third week of April.

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