England have “full FTP schedule” from June onwards, says Ashley Giles
England’s centrally contracted players are unlikely to be available for the completion of the IPL wherever and whenever it is rescheduled.
While the England management were happy to allow up to a dozen English players to miss the Test series against New Zealand at the start of June due to their involvement in the IPL, any rescheduling of the event is likely to clash with series in the Future Tours Programme (FTP). And that, according to England men’s director of cricket, Ashley Giles, means they will be viewed differently.
The IPL was postponed last week due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in India. With BCCI president Sourav Ganguly having accepted the competition cannot be completed in India this year, various dates and venues have been mooted. Those include the second half of September, before the T20 World Cup, and from mid-November, after it.
But England’s top players will be in action at both times. And with very little space in the schedule until their Caribbean tour ends at the end of March 2022 – just ahead of the next season of the IPL – it is increasingly probable they will play no part in any rearranged tournament.
Giles dismisses the suggestion this signals any change of approach from the ECB. While the series against New Zealand was a late addition to the schedule – it was only finalised in the early part of this year and does not feature as part of the World Test Championship – most of England’s remaining obligations have been in the FTP for a long time.
“We’re planning on the involvement of England players in England matches,” Giles said. “We’ve got a full FTP schedule. So if those tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh [in September and October] are going ahead, I’d expect the players to be there.
“The New Zealand scenario was very different. Those Test matches were formalised at the end of January, by which time all those contracts and NOCs [no objection certificates] were signed for full involvement in the IPL.
“None of us knows what a rearranged IPL looks like at the moment; where it’s going to be or when. But from when we start this summer against New Zealand, our programme is incredibly busy. We’ve got a lot of important, high-profile cricket including the T20 World Cup and the Ashes. And we’re going to have to look after our players.”
England are currently scheduled to depart for a six-match limited-overs tour of Bangladesh on September 16. They are then due in Pakistan in mid-October and, while that tour is not strictly speaking part of the FTP, it’s an important one for various reasons and will mark England’s first to the country in 16 years.
Even before the T20 World Cup finishes, some of England’s touring party for the Ashes are likely to have arrived in Australia ahead of a series that is likely to start on December 8. England then have a limited-overs tour to the Caribbean at the end of January 2022 – days after the completion of the Ashes – before a Test series to the same destination in March.
Meanwhile Giles expressed a hope that players would be allowed “a bit more freedom” from bio-bubbles as the England summer progresses. The Test squad are likely to enter their latest bubble from around May 28. For those who play all formats of the game, it could seem the start of a daunting period.
“We think it’s probably unreasonable to expect that our players could be in bubbles all summer,” Giles said. “We want to keep them in safe environments, obviously. But we are really aware of the importance for these guys, their time with loved ones, families in particular. That’s the balance we are trying to strike.
“We are hopeful this year that as we see society move a certain way, that we can move with it. It could be the case that we may start tighter, as society is right now, and look to release, as everything else does.”
Despite the hectic schedule, Giles remains keen to see the England players appearing in the Hundred. The event starts on July 21 – the day after England’s men play a day-night T20I in Manchester – and runs until August 21. England’s Test series against India is scheduled to start in Nottingham on August 4.
“We’d love them to be involved in the Hundred at some point and the launch of that competition,” he said. “It would be great to have our best players playing in it.
“But we’ll have to look at workloads very carefully. We’ve got a lot of cricket coming up so it’s a difficult juggling act but I know the players are also looking forward to that tournament and would love to be involved at some stage if they can.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Bangladesh unhappy as Australia’s Covid-19 demands force Mushfiqur Rahim to miss home T20Is
According to the terms agreed to between the two boards, the senior batter can’t enter the Dhaka bio-bubble now
“It is unfair what happened with Mushfiq,” a member of Bangladesh’s tour party to Zimbabwe, told ESPNcricinfo. “We came in a commercial flight passing through three airports so I don’t know if it makes much sense to keep Mushfiq out of the series. He went back home from the middle of a tour for a family problem. So to not allow him to enter the quarantine after just two or three days, is not right.”
The BCB says it did ask CA to reconsider the stance on Rahim, but to no avail.
“The agreement between CA and BCB says that there is no chance for allowing anyone from outside into the bio-bubble,” a BCB official said. “We have to hold the series with only those inside the bio-bubble. There will be challenges but this is the new normal. I think the selectors have picked the players who are best available during this scenario. There are no alternatives but to take our best available options.”
The quarantine rules could also have an impact on the use of DRS during the series. DRS technicians sit in the same room generally with match officials but the latter have been in a ten-day quarantine period and anyone coming in from the outside – such as a DRS technician – will not be able to sit in the same room according to protocols.
“We have fulfilled the requirements for the production team. We are ready,” a BCB official said. “If the technician can work from a remote location, we will have DRS. There still remain some challenges but the technical person still has time (to be involved in the series).
“He has to comply with a three-day quarantine (according to local health directorate), but CA has a condition that whoever isn’t part of the ten-day quarantine, they can’t get into close contact with anyone who was in the quarantine. If this person can manage to do the work remotely, then we can have DRS in the playing conditions.”
The issues highlight the challenges the BCB faced for this series, in setting up two separate quarantines for match officials, hotel staff, and logistics, liaison and ground staff; the BCB has also made sure that the Australians can go to the team hotel from the airport tarmac directly. Their immigration will be processed separately, and their passports returned only after being sanitised for three days. The hotel will also be off-limits to anyone but the touring party till August 10.
The BCB had earlier agreed to hold all the five matches at the Shere Bangla National Stadium instead of at two venues.
“It is not just about CA giving us conditions and us accepting those conditions,” a board official said. “The Australia team is traveling here on a chartered flight from West Indies. It shows how serious they are about the health and welfare of players. We are only fulfilling some of their additional requirements.”
Despite all that, concern will remain. Bangladesh is currently experiencing a fresh Covid-19 wave, and the country has been in a strict lockdown. There were 258 deaths and 14,925 new cases the day before Australia’s arrival in Dhaka on Thursday. Pulling off the series without incident will be important for the BCB’s home season ahead, given New Zealand are expected to arrive in early September to play five T20Is before England travel for three T20Is and the same number of ODIs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
SL vs IND, 2nd T20I, 2021
He trusted his lower-order team-mates to play big shots if he took the game deep
Not known for his hitting capability, the match situation was perhaps made for de Silva, who struck only two boundaries – a six and a four – and focused instead on running singles and twos. With a severely depleted India making only 132, Sri Lanka did not require huge fireworks with the bat to chase it down.
“This is what I’m meant to do for the team,” de Silva said after the match. “In the previous match as well, what I’d been told was to bat 20 overs from one side. I wasn’t able to do that in the previous game. Today was my day and I did that. If I can bat at a run-a-ball until the final overs, letting others attack around me, I can raise my strike rate towards the finish as well. That was the coach, captain and selectors’ plan.”
de Silva said the surface for this match was the slowest of the tour. It took a significant turn right through the game, with spinners picking up seven of the 11 wickets to fall. Only three sixes were struck in the entire match.
“We knew it was a slow pitch, so our target while bowling was to restrict them to 125 or 130,” he said. “Our bowlers did well and we were able to manage that. When it came to our innings, we knew that it would be tough to bat as well, but if we dragged the game out to the 20th over, the equation becomes simple and we know what we have to do. I think even a T20 match, that’s the way to do it.”
“We know that in the last four or five batters we have a few that can hit a six. Chamika, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana and even Dushmantha Chameera can hit a big shot. What I’d wanted to do was to take the game deep, thinking that Wanindu or Chamika would be there with me to finish it off. Thankfully, Chamika was there at the end.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
The Hundred – Jofra Archer not expected to link up with Southern Brave this week
Team hopeful of having the pacer for the last four games as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery
Archer has played twice for Sussex in the last 10 days, first bowling three overs in their Vitality Blast win against Kent and a further six against Oxfordshire in a 50-over warm-up match last Tuesday, but has not linked up with the Southern Brave squad since the start of the Hundred and is not expected to do so this week.
“It’s one of those where I’m staying out of it and leaving it to the experts in that area. Hopefully we do get him because it would be a big boost for us, but if we don’t, we’ve got guys who are capable here.”
An ECB spokesperson said that a further update on Archer’s fitness was expected next week but did not confirm whether he had been given a pain-killing injection in the last two days. Archer underwent elbow surgery in May following an aborted comeback from the injury at the start of the English summer.
The Brave were the pre-tournament favourites for the men’s competition but have lost both of their first two games and are already in danger of missing out on the knockout stages, with only the top three teams progressing. Mahela Jayawardene, their head coach, has regularly recovered from sluggish starts while coaching Mumbai Indians in the IPL, and Vince suggested that his recent experience with Hampshire – who squeezed into the Blast’s quarter-finals in the final round of group games – meant he was not panicking yet.
“I’m sure we’ll realise that we need to start winning soon but I’ve just been part of a Hampshire side in the Blast that got off to a bit of a slow start and then managed to play some great cricket towards the back end and get some momentum going,” he said. “I think this format will be very similar.
“We’re aware we need to improve in a few areas but we were much better [on Tuesday] and had our chance to win the game. The next three or four games coming up will be important to make sure we’re there or thereabouts come the last few.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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