Ben Stokes set to join Joe Root in not taking part in this year’s IPL

Ben Stokes is set to join Joe Root in making himself unavailable for this year’s Indian Premier League auction following England’s Ashes defeat in Australia.

The all-rounder has featured in the last four seasons of the lucrative Twenty20 tournament, playing for the now defunct Rising Pune Supergiant franchise on a £1.7m deal in 2017 – and winning the MVP award – before joining Rajasthan Royals the following year for £1.3m.

Stokes was released by the Royals after missing the bulk of last year’s campaign through injury, but as a fast bowling all-rounder he was expected to attract another bumper contract when the world’s best players go under the hammer on 12 and 13 February. But amid an ever-crunched international schedule made even more gruelling by the pandemic, and having only returned from a four-month break to address a finger injury and his mental health before the recent Ashes campaign, the 30-year-old is understood not to have registered his name for 2022.

Root stated a similar intention to turn down the IPL after the 146-run loss in the fifth Test in Hobart and though he went unsold in 2018 – his only previous time in the auction – such that a buyer was not guaranteed, the creation of two new teams with a combined 16 overseas berth had increased the possibility. “There’s a lot that we need to do for this [Test] team, which deserves all of my energy,” said Root. “I’ll keep sacrificing as much as I can because I care so much about Test cricket in our country and trying to get us to where we want to be.”

England’s relationship with the IPL – unique in world cricket due to its overlap with the home summer – has thawed in recent times such that Test players who held deals were rested by the national set-up during last year’s packed winter schedule and also missed the belatedly-scheduled home series against New Zealand.

A heavy Ashes defeat means centrally-contracted players are set to be limited in terms of their IPL availability this year. The tournament starts on 3 April, less than a week after a three-Test series in the Caribbean ends on 28 March, while its final is slated for 3 June, the day after another home Test series versus New Zealand begins.

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