ECB should soften stand on IPL to keep players happy, feels Matt Prior

Matt Prior is worried that players may retire early from Test cricket to play in the IPL © Getty Images

London: Feb 14, 2013

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior feels that the players will become “frustrated” unless England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) changes its stance towards the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).

“If you ask any Englishman or Australian, would you rather score a T20 hundred or an Ashes hundred? I know which one most people would go with, but guys are going to start looking at it,” Prior said, as reported by BBC Sport.

“I know for a fact that players want to play in the IPL. You can’t get away from the fact that there is an enormous amount of money at stake.”

Prior, who played for Sydney Thunder in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 league in January, is worried that the impasse could cause players to consider retiring early from Test cricket to earn money in the IPL.

The ECB allows its players to play only half of the IPL season as it clashes with England’s Tests in May. As a result of this move, England players are not picked up by IPL franchises during IPL auctions.

Prior, who has been unsold in the last two auctions, felt that ECB will have to change the scheduling of Tests to keep its players happy.

“I’m employed by the ECB, so I do what the ECB says right now.If that’s when the Test matches are, then that’s when the Test matches are. My priority is playing Test cricket for England and when I am needed to play Test cricket for England I will play,” he said.

“The one thing, however, is that the IPL and these Twenty20 competitions are not going away. People love them and the players enjoy playing in them, so there are going to be more and more people getting frustrated at the lack of opportunity to play in the IPL. So things may have to change in time,” he added.

England will play Tests during the sixth edition edition of the IPL, starting on April 3. England players who are centrally contracted will have to be back in England by May 5 to prepare for the first Test against New Zealand starting on May 16 at Lord’s.

The stand-off between the two boards has been a constant source of tention with star batsman Kevin Pietersen, expressing his love for the tournament and his desire to play out the entire season.

Another England top-order batsman Ian Bell, who failed to earn an IPL contract in 2011 and 2012 admitted that the cash-rich league is a ‘big attraction.’

While the likes of Prior and Ravi Bopara went unsold, unproven Australian youngsters like Glenn Maxwell and Kane Richardson earned themselves a good deal in the tournament.

England’s Professional Cricketers Association are making an attempt to negotiate with the ECB to allow the players to play the entire tournament when their central contracts are renegotiated in October, but the ECB is expected to put its foot down on this matter and maintain its stance that international cricket must always come first for England players.