England head coach Chris Silverwood has confirmed that the English players will be permitted to choose club over country should their respective IPL franchises qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament. This would mean a chunk of English players missing the Tests vs New Zealand.
The English cricket team could face an extremely awkward situation in two months’ time as several cricketers could end up missing the two-Test series scheduled against New Zealand in June owing to partaking in the IPL. Due to logistical challenges and quarantine restrictions, it would not be viable for players featuring in the knockout stages of the IPL to partake in the Test series vs New Zealand, scheduled to start June 2.
Thus, the only way England could have a full-strength side at their disposal is if the ECB prematurely pull their players out of the tournament in time for the Tests. However, head coach Chris Silverwood has ruled out that possibility and has confirmed that the English players will be ‘allowed’ to stay back and play the entirety of IPL 2021, even at the cost of missing the Tests vs New Zealand.
"We haven't looked at selection or anything like that for the Tests yet, but, for me, playing for your country is a big thing. It's difficult to change anything so they'll be staying for the whole IPL as it stands, yes. Listen, we'll be looking at the Test series and working our way back to see what sort of preparation we need and we haven't done that at this time. It's something we will be doing,” Cricbuzz quoted Silverwood as saying.
The only other scenario in which England could have a close-to full-strength side is if teams of their star Test players fail to make the knockout stages. Rajasthan Royals have the trio of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer while the Delhi Capitals retained Chris Woakes, who is a starter for England in Tests back home. Thus should these two franchises fail to make the playoffs, it could mean England having a full strength side, with the rest of the red-ball team being composed of Test specialists.
The two-Test series versus New Zealand, scheduled to kick-off on June 2, will not be a part of the World Test Championship.