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Curran departure leads frustrated Stewart to call for IPL cut-off date

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Alec Stewart, Surrey’s director of cricket, has lent his weight to calls for the ECB to consider a cut-off date for future call-ups to the IPL, after his team’s early-season plans were thrown “out of the window” due to the last-minute departure of Tom Curran to Kolkata Knight Riders.

Though Curran went unsold at his base price of USD156,000 during the IPL auction in February, his stock as a limited-overs allrounder rose considerably during England’s subsequent ODI series win in New Zealand.

And, when Mitchell Starc was ruled out of this year’s campaign due to a shin injury, KKR swooped for Curran in a USD253,000 deal. Barely a week later, he made his debut against Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk, and has impressed his new employers with three wickets in two appearances to date.

While Stewart did not begrudge his player either the pay packet or the high-pressure experience that he accepts will help mould Curran into a better player, he bridled at the timing of his departure, just days before the start of a County Championship campaign in which he had been expected to be a pivotal player.

Curran’s departure was one of three high-profile call-ups from the county circuit this month, preceding Yorkshire’s twin losses of David Willey and Liam Plunkett to Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils respectively, and the subject was the hot topic of discussion at last week’s crisis meeting of county coaches at Edgbaston.

“It’s far from ideal losing Tom so late,” Stewart said. “I hope in time this will be looked at. The IPL is not going anywhere – I fully understand players wanting to be part of it because, one, it’s a good competition and, second, it helps your bank balance.

“The problem is when you get the phone calls I got for Tom, and Martyn Moxon [Yorkshire’s director of cricket] got for Willey and Plunkett. Your planning goes out of the window.”

“Tom will come back a better player so I don’t have a real issue with it, but the issue is who controls the players – are they our players or are they IPL players?”

Alec Stewart, Surrey director of cricket

The fact that the IPL overlaps with the start of the county season has long been a bone of contention for the ECB, who were resistant to allowing their players to take part in the tournament for most of the first decade of its existence.

But now, having relaxed their attitude towards English involvement, an alternative problem is rearing its head – given that the players’ efforts to get ready for the English season make them obvious oven-ready replacements for IPL franchises seeking to replace injured players.

“All I think needs to be looked at is a cut-off, ideally a month before the championship starts,” Stewart said. “If you get picked up in the auction, that’s fine – it’s at the end of February, so that’s six or seven weeks before the start of the season.

“Then everyone knows that, even if you don’t get picked up in the auction, there’s a three- or four-week window, but once that has gone, you can’t then go and play.”

Stewart believes that the matter has been complicated by blurred lines of communication between the players, the counties, the ECB and the franchises, and says that a redrafting of the No Objection Certificate is the only way to prevent the situation being presented to the counties as a fait accompli.

“How it should work is that IPL phone the ECB to ask about a player, and the ECB talk to the county. That’s how it is meant to work – but it doesn’t, though, because the franchise will ring the player or agent direct to see if they are interested and, once they are told the money, they always are – so you have to let them go.”

“That needs to go on the No Objection Certificate, so that the IPL know and the franchises know that’s the deal and the players understand as well. Otherwise it leaves us in a bit of a mess.

“Tom will come back a better player so I don’t have a real issue with it, but the issue is who controls the players – are they our players or are they IPL players? They are under contract [to the counties] for 12 months, so I would argue they are ours. We should have more control than just saying ‘I guess you are going then’.”

A further complication stems from what Stewart believes is insufficient compensation to those counties who lose out when their star players are snapped up by the IPL – an issue that came to light when Plunkett, who is on an ECB white-ball contract, was approached by Delhi earlier this month.

“We have discovered that the ECB have been receiving 10% of the overall contract a player gets from IPL for a number of years and this year it is 20%,” he said. “I hope that it will now be looked at – now that we are aware that this has been happening, which we weren’t before.

“Should the ECB be keeping that? Or should that money come back to the county, who are the ones who miss out? I personally believe all that money should come back to the county if you are not an ECB contracted player because of the money that has been invested.”



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Cricket

‘Good luck understanding our great game’

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The ECB took the game by surprise when it announced that the new city-based tournament to be launched in 2020 will be based around a 100-ball concept rather than T20. Here’s some of the early reaction





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Chennai Super Kings seek to recreate stronghold at new home | Cricket

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Big Picture

Much has changed since Chennai Super Kings last played Rajasthan Royals in 2015. Shane Watson has switched camps. Suresh Raina has missed an IPL game in yellow jersey. Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t conformed to the hold-my-end-up-and-let-the-rest-hit-around-me norm. And the MA Chidambaram Stadium will not host CSK’s home matches this season.

It’s the last two of those that have the most bearing presently. This new-found aggression of Rahane has been abrupt. T20 logic dictates that your most effective batsmen get the maximum opportunities to score. With a smart strike-rate of 109, Rahane didn’t fit that bill. But with 72 runs off the last 39 balls he has faced, Rahane has understood the need of the hour better. It is a significant shift in strategy, which could have a ripple effect on the rest of the batting line-up.

This isn’t the first time that CSK have had to move to a new home – MS Dhoni’s hometown of Ranchi hosted them in 2014 and 2015. But with 34 wins in 48 IPL matches, the MA Chidambaram Stadium has for long been a stronghold, and how they adapt to a forced change of venue will be key to the remainder of their season. With a run rate of 13.22 in the last five overs so far, CSK have redefined death-overs batting, with each of their innings being characterised by manic late surges. But it is their bowling – they have conceded an average total of 188 so far – and fielding that will worry them the most.




© ESPNcricinfo Ltd


In the news

  • MS Dhoni batted through a back injury in their previous match against Kings XI Punjab, but he trained with the team on the eve of the game against Royals. Raina, who had missed CSK’s previous match because of a calf injury, also resumed training and could return to the team on Friday.
  • David Willey, who was Kedar Jadhav’s replacement player for CSK, was seen bowling extensively in the nets on match eve. Does that mean an IPL debut for the England allrounder?
  • Like Short, Ben Laughlin has fared poorly, going at 10.39 an over. Royals have a potential replacement in Jofra Archer, although it isn’t clear yet if he has recovered from the side strain that kept him out of much of the Pakistan Super League and the start of the Indian Premier League.

The likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ambati Rayudu, 3 M Vijay/Suresh Raina, 4 Sam Billings (wk), 5 MS Dhoni/Dhruv Shorey, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 D’Arcy Short/Heinrich Klassen, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 K Gowtham, 8 Shreyas Gopal, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Ben Laughlin/Joffra Archer

Strategy punt

  • While opening with spin has become a common theme this season, CSK will want to have enough overs of spin left when Ben Stokes arrives. In four innings this season, Stokes has fallen twice to spin, and has managed only 22 runs off the 25 balls from spinners.
  • Royals have steered away from using their spinners in the slog overs so far, but they may be forced to change that. Laughlin and Jaydev Unadkat, their two strike bowlers, have fared poorly in this phase. While Laughlin has conceded 46 runs off 3.5 overs and doesn’t have a single wicket, Unadkat has fared worse, going at 16.5 an over while also being wicketless.




© ESPNcricinfo Ltd


Stats that matter

  • Both teams have had an equal level of success and failure in Pune. While CSK have won one and lost one, Rajasthan Royals have won and lost two games each.
  • While CSK have an overall record of 11 wins and six defeats against Royals, the last five matches between these two teams have been more closely fought, with CSK winning three and Royals winning two.
  • Ben Laughlin has dismissed Dwayne Bravo on each of the three occasions he has bowled to the batsman in T20s. Off the nine balls he has faced from Laughlin, Bravo has seven runs.
  • Sanju Samson needs 66 more runs to become the fifth batsman to score 1000 runs for Royals in the IPL.
  • Imran Tahir has an excellent record in Pune, averaging two wickets per match, with an average of 15.1 and economy rate of 7.8.
  • Both Sanju Samson and Ben Stokes’ only T20 centuries have come in Pune.




© ESPNcricinfo Ltd


Fantasy picks

  • Big hitter, electric fielder, and a bowler who can give you four overs: Ben Stokes is an excellent T20 package. Even if he does fare badly in one of those areas, there are plenty of other ways he can help you recover those points.
  • Sanju Samson has a good record at Pune, where he scored his only T20 century. That, coupled with his current form – he has scores of 49, 37 and 92* in four innings – should make him a tempting pick.

Quote

“It looks a good pitch to me. Nice covering of grass, more grass than probably what we are used to seeing on an Indian pitch.”
Michael Hussey, Chennai Super Kings’ batting coach

Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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ECB to propose ‘100-ball’ competition

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The ECB’s new city-based competition could be set to be a 100-balls-a-side affair, according to a radical proposal released today.

The concept suggests that the eight-team competition could consist of 15 traditional six-ball overs, and a final 10-ball over – a 20-delivery shortfall on traditional T20 matches.

The proposed approach was presented by the ECB to the chairmen and chief executives of the first-class counties and MCC on Thursday, and has been unanimously supported by the board of the new competition.

The ECB have also confirmed that Southampton, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Nottingham will be the host cities for the five-week competition, with Lord’s and The Oval each playing host to a London-based team.

“This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Throughout its development, we have shown leadership, provided challenge and followed a process. We will continue to do that as the concept evolves.

“Our game has a history of innovation and we have a duty to look for future growth for the health and sustainability of the whole game.

“There are 18 First Class Counties, playing red and white ball cricket, at our core and these Counties and competitions will be supported, promoted and benefit from the game’s growth.”

The radical proposals are an attempt to differentiate the ECB’s tournament from the T20 franchise competitions that have already taken root globally – including the IPL in India, Australia’s Big Bash, and the Caribbean Premier League – as well as the existing Vitality Blast competition, featuring all 18 counties, which will continue concurrently.

The loss of 20 balls per innings will help to ensure that the competition fits comfortably into a three-hour window, with all matches expected to finish by 9pm.

Sanjay Patel, the ECB’s chief commercial officer, and MD for the new competition, said: “The development team has had strong support and encouragement in its conversations to date and it’s time to take the concept wider as we build the detail.

“This is 100-ball cricket, a simple approach to reach a new generation. Based on 15 traditional six-ball overs, the other ten balls will add a fresh tactical dimension.

“Crucially, this will also help differentiate this competition from Vitality Blast and other T20 competitions worldwide, maintaining our game’s history of successful innovation.

“The players and our valuable broadcast partners under the new TV partnerships from 2020-24 are vital to the success of this competition and they will see the energy, excitement and simplicity of this approach.”

The five-week competition will feature both men’s and women’s team in concurrent competitions, as the ECB seek to build on the explosion of interest in women’s cricket since the World Cup win in 2017.

“Our World Cup win at Lord’s last July showed what’s possible in terms of our sport reaching a new, younger and more diverse audience,” said Clare Connor, the ECB’s Director of Women’s Cricket.

“Kia Super League has had a huge impact on participation, player development and the profile of our game. It was a big investment and a bold decision by the Board and paved the way for this next stage of growth.

“To build the women’s and men’s competitions and identities together, side by side, is a prospect that few sports ever have and will give us greater reach, scale and prominence.

“It will attract more women and girls to the game, ensure that cricket reaches and entertains more families and give our players an exciting stage upon which to display their talent.”



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