Dhumal: It was committed that England players would be available for entire IPL 2024 but exit unfortunate

Arun Dhumal, the chairman of the Indian Premier League, talked about the exit of T20 World Cup-bound England players mid-season and also the future of the Impact Player rule.

Published : May 21, 2024 21:15 IST , AHMEDABAD - 4 MINS READ

England’s T20 World Cup-bound cricketers’ decision to skip the Indian Premier League playoffs due to national commitments has divided the cricket fraternity.

However, Arun Dhumal, the chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council, termed the whole event ‘unfortunate’ as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had earlier confirmed to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) about the availability of players for the entire tournament.

“It was given as a commitment that they will be available for the entire tournament. It was indeed very unfortunate with the way things happened this time around,” Dhumal told Sportstar.

“Unfortunately, there was some change of guard at the ECB and so, the new people who took over did not know about the bilateral series they had planned, and they wanted to put their best team there. Due to that, the confusion arose.”

England’s bilateral series against Pakistan was part of the Future Tour Programs (FTP) from 2023 to 2027.

It was announced by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in August 2022 - much before the current ECB chairman Richard Thompson and CEO Richard Gould took over in September 2022 and February 2023 respectively.

But even then, the question remains whether there was any communication gap between the two Boards over the players’ availability as soon after England announced its World Cup squad, the selected players were asked to return home for the series against Pakistan, starting May 22.

England’s T20 captain, Jos Buttler, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, had also flown back before the 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup.
England’s T20 captain, Jos Buttler, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, had also flown back before the 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup. | Photo Credit: Reuters

England’s T20 captain, Jos Buttler, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, had also flown back before the 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup. | Photo Credit: Reuters

In fact, England’s team managing director, Rob Key, stated that captain Jos Buttler advocated for the English players to withdraw from the IPL playoffs.

Despite the Board initiating a conversation, there was no headway and some of the England players - including Buttler and Phil Salt - left India even before the IPL league stage finished.

“We have had good discussions with the ECB and hopefully, it won’t happen again in the future. A few people who had earlier committed to this aren’t with the ECB now, but ideally, even if there was a change of guard, things should have happened the way it was planned,” Dhumal said, adding that the BCCI ‘will take the required corrective actions’ from its end going forward.

While the four franchises, who made it to the playoffs, had to desperately look for contingency plans due to the absence of the England players, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar proposed financial penalties for players leaving the tournament mid-way.

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Ever since its inception in 2008, the overseas players have featured regularly in the tournament.

“We have always discussed with all the boards regarding the player availability and in case a player needs to go back due to genuine reasons, we definitely allow that. They have been quite cooperative so far, so all the players and the Board are aligned with the success of this tournament and love being part of the IPL,” Dhumal said.

“The IPL is the second-biggest league and the kind of numbers we see, in terms of global audience, has become a benchmark for others to follow for how to conduct a world-class league.

“We are also very thankful to the other Boards who have been equal partners in this IPL. Everyone understands their responsibilities. I don’t think apart from minor hiccups, there’s anything to worry about…” he added.

On Impact Player rule

There have also been debates about the Impact Player rule, with several cricketers - including Rohit Sharma batting against it. Dhumal, however, said that the Board will decide its future course of action after feedback.

“I don’t understand the chatter that has been going around about the Impact Player rule. It has made a significant impact and the fans loved the way the tournament went about it. We will definitely discuss with the stakeholders as to what they feel about it…” Dhumal said.

The mid-innings substitution rule, introduced in the previous edition of the IPL, has sparked a row. Echoing Rohit, Virat Kohli, too, said that the rule is “disrupting the balance” of the game.

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“It’s given one more opportunity to a batter to perform and one more bowler to give his best,” Dhumal said.

“The best all-rounders, in any which way, are part of the team, and it’s just that they have to raise the bar and be among the best ones. Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) was there, Axar Patel was there, Sunil Narine was there and they have all been part of the tournament.

“The best bowlers also made the cut, it’s just that there were 250-plus scores, but the fans loved it. We will take feedback and in case it needs some correction, we will look into it,” he added.

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