International series will determine when players from Australia, South Africa, England, West Indies and Bangladesh are available
The Test leg of Australia’s tour of Pakistan, featuring three matches, is scheduled to end on March 25. Australia will then play a three-match ODI series in Rawalpindi, which will also host the only T20I on April 5. In an email to the franchises on Wednesday, the IPL said Cricket Australia had permitted players who were part of both the Test and white-ball leg in Pakistan, to travel from April 6. CA had also told IPL that all Australian players – contracted or not – whose state teams feature in the Sheffield Shield final starting from March 31 would be free to travel only from April 5.
George Bailey, Australia’s chairman of selectors, had said on Tuesday said that while IPL was a “development opportunity”, CA would not release players when Australia was playing. “We do see the IPL as a really good development opportunity when it fits, but there’s obviously a huge amount of cricket with a series (in Sri Lanka) planned for immediately-post the IPL as well,” Bailey had said during a media briefing.
“So it will be about working with the individuals to ensure they’re getting the preparation they need, but we certainly won’t be releasing players to the IPL while Australia are playing.”
As for the South Africans, Cricket South Africa has indicated its players will be available only after their home series against Bangladesh is completed. South Africa captain Dean Elgar also indicated as much, saying at a press conference on February 10: “If a player is to pick up a big deal [at the IPL auction], we are going to still pull him into line because he’s got to play for us. First and foremost, playing Test cricket for your country is the ultimate. My understanding is that the players will be available to play that series against Bangladesh. I’m not sure.”* While CSA is yet to name its squads, Bangladesh’s tour will begin with a three-match ODI series between March 18 and 23, followed by a two-Test series between March 30 and April 11.
The limited availability of the several key players is bound to impact the 10 teams who are busy preparing for the two-day IPL auction this weekend on February 12 and 13. Cummins, Warner and Rabada feature in 10-player marquee list, which will be the first set of players in the auction.
*5am GMT, February 10: Dean Elgar’s quote was added to the article.
Gaurav Sundararaman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo