England stars Bairstow, Woakes and Malan PULL OUT of IPL restart in the UAE and join Jos Buttler in preserving their fitness ahead of packed winter
- The Indian Premier League restarts on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates
- The season was initially suspended in May due to rising coronavirus cases
- Jos Buttler has already pulled-out with the star facing a hectic schedule of play
- Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Dawid Malan have copied the England man
A trio of England players pulled out of the Indian Premier League on Saturday to prioritise the Ashes as the fall-out from the cancelled Manchester Test match continued.
Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Dawid Malan opted not to travel to the United Arab Emirates for the resumption of the lucrative Twenty20 tournament after being advised they were in the frame for Test tour places this winter.
The decision was arguably made easier for them when IPL bosses on Saturday set a hard six-day quarantine upon arrival in Dubai for anyone disembarking flights from the UK.
Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan will not take part in the Indian Premier League restart
Chris Woakes joins the England pairing on the sidelines as he prioritises a packed winter
That came in response to the Covid outbreak in the India team’s backroom staff ahead of what was supposed to be the final match of five against England at Old Trafford.
Although the entire India playing squad returned negative PCR tests, organisers — fearful of subsequent positive cases arising in the UAE — moved to halt the potential of a spread by insisting on a uniform six days in a hotel room for them plus the 10 England players joining them for a competition that resumes on September 19.
Plans were in place for all participants to board a charter plane this coming Wednesday but that was brought forward to Saturday — in the aftermath of the fiasco that saw the ECB scrabbling to recoup the £40million they face in losses following the India players’ withdrawal — and then scrapped altogether to avoid creating mass infections in mid-air.
Instead, franchises hurriedly organised separate flights for their squad members, with players like Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid all in transit this weekend. The tight timeframe means British-based travellers will only exit their upcoming isolations and be able to practise 24 hours before the action begins.
They will then be restricted to team bubbles, with up to three franchises sharing hotels and teams being ferried from their accommodation to cricket grounds and back daily.
A similar scenario awaits England when they check in at the luxurious Palm for next month’s Twenty20 World Cup. They will take over a wing at the hotel and have designated time slots for use of shared facilities like the gym, pool and beach.
Jos Buttler has already made the decision not to fly to the UAE for the IPL’s second start
For the ECB, with the anger and frustration of the previous 24 hours dissipating, the focus switched from haggling about whether the result of the abandoned contest should be a forfeiture by the Indians to arranging a substitute match which would offset a significant proportion of the £25million deficit they face from broadcasters as a result of the letter Virat Kohli dispatched to the governing body’s chief executive Tom Harrison as Thursday ticked into Friday.
Providing Sky with an additional Test next summer would limit the compensation claim they face now. Options were being discussed throughout Saturday, with the preferred one being to rearrange the fixture against India for next summer when they are back here for six white-ball internationals.
That has its complications, however. India are scheduled to play those matches in early July, before South Africa arrive for a trio of Twenty20s ahead of a Test series beginning in the second half of August.
It is plausible to ask India to hang around and play a practice match ahead of a Test back in Manchester in early August but there are hurdles to overcome: it would mean England players missing out on their Hundred participation window — one of the ECB’s chief pledges in their best v best marketing of the fourth format — while India are also carded to tour West Indies that month.
The complications have arisen at a particularly tense juncture for the ECB, who are seeking clarification from Cricket Australia as to the Covid-related conditions that will be imposed upon the tourists for the Ashes this winter.