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Josh Little becomes first Irish international to earn Indian Premier League deal

Josh Little becomes first Irish international to earn Indian Premier League deal
Josh Little becomes first Irish international to earn Indian Premier League deal
©Sportsfile / Cricket Ireland

Cricket Ireland has agreed to grant Irish international Josh Little permission to join the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2023 after he was picked up by the Gujarat Titans in today’s IPL Draft.

Little becomes the first active Irish international to be offered a contract to play in the world’s biggest franchise tournament.

Little, 23, made his international debut for Ireland in 2016. The left-arm seamer from Dublin has since played 2 ODIs and 53 T20Is for his country.

Josh Little said:

"I'm delighted to have been signed by the defending champions, the Gujarat Titans, and look forward to playing under Hardik Pandya within such a high quality squad. I'm also looking forward to working with coach Ashish Nehra and would like to thank the management team at the Titans for believing in me.

"I have loved playing international cricket for Ireland - and that will always remain my priority, but to be able to learn and play in the IPL will be an incredible opportunity and thanks to Cricket Ireland for supporting me in this."

While local Irish fans were aware of Little’s potential for many years, he burst onto the international radar in May 2019 in his ODI debut when he claimed 4-45 in a devastating spell of pace bowling against England in Dublin – which saw him remove three of the top four batters, including Eoin Morgan for a duck (Morgan is the only other Irish-born cricketer to feature in the IPL previously, however, he was playing for England at that time of his involvement).

Little’s most recent bowling exploits for the national team were in the ICC T20 World Cup against New Zealand when he became the sixth bowler ever to register a hat-trick in a T20 World Cup.

Little has also featured in several franchise leagues – Lanka Premier League and The Hundred – while last month he was picked up in the Pakistan Super League draft and has been offered a deal in the SA20.

Aware of the potential for Little to be successful in today’s draft, Cricket Ireland had indicated to both the player and the tournament organiser that a No Objection Certificate (NOC) would be issued that would allow Little to participate in the entire IPL season, however with one brief exception that covers the three World Cup Super League ODIs against Bangladesh in May 2023.

Richard Holdsworth, High Performance Director for Cricket Ireland, said:

“We are delighted for Josh and wish him well in the IPL next year. Josh is a hard-working and dedicated athlete who has come up through the Irish system. He has been an essential part of the Irish set-up for several years now and we believe his development will only accelerate further through involvement in the IPL.

“We have carved out the three ODIs against Bangladesh at home in early 2023 from the deal, given the potential crucial nature of those fixtures in the context of our World Cup qualification.

“The impact of franchise cricket is increasingly front-of-mind for Cricket Ireland as our standing grows on the world stage and the profile of our players increases significantly. Our policy, in general, is that we maintain strong support of our international and contracted players playing in domestic leagues where this helps their development, provides cricket during gaps in our calendar and provides additional income for the player.

“We release players to play in a high-quality domestic franchise event which the selectors deem beneficial to the player’s development, and which do not compromise the national team’s performance or development. This explains why Josh will be released for all but the most important of our pre-season international series, the World Cup Super League matches against Bangladesh in May. In addition, we will generally not release players after a squad selection has been announced.

“Franchise cricket opportunities have become an increasing feature of modern-day cricket, so we remain somewhat flexible in our response to offers that arise, but in general we will maintain an ‘Ireland-first’ policy when the potential for conflict arises.

Our approach also allows us to blood new players who might not otherwise get game time for Ireland. Looking ahead, it will become ever-more important for us to expand our pool of players to accommodate the increasing quantity of fixtures happening at bilateral international, ICC Event and domestic franchise level.

“Again, congratulations to Josh – everyone in Irish cricket wishes him well and it is indeed recognition not only for Josh, but Irish cricket itself that our players are now becoming well sought after by franchise leagues.”