Jonny Bairstow Chris Woakes and Dawid Malan are set to join Jos Buttler among the high-profile England withdrawals when this year’s edition of the Indian Premier League resumes next week.
A bulging winter schedule is on the horizon for the quartet, who have been selected in England’s provisional squad for the Twenty20 World Cup which begins next month in the United Arab Emirates while they are all in contention for Ashes berths.
Rajasthan Royals have already announced Buttler will be absent for the remainder of the IPL, which restarts on September 19 in the UAE after being suspended in May amid an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases in India.
Fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow, seam-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes and Malan, the world’s number one ranked T20 batsman, are understood to have pulled out as well.
Bairstow is leading run-scorer for Sunrisers Hyderabad but they sit bottom of the standings at the halfway point and seem unlikely to reach the knockout phases while Woakes and Malan have only had bit-part roles with Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings respectively.
Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are unavailable for the Royals but there could still be 10 English representatives on show with 2019 50-over World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan heading the pack as he skippers Kolkata Knight Riders.
Jason Roy, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, Sam and Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Sam Billings, and George Garton are also due to participate in the highly-lucrative T20 competition.
While all England players will fly commercial, Mumbai Indians announced captain Rohit Sharma, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and batsman Suryakumar Yadav arrived into Abu Dhabi on a private charter flight on Saturday morning.
The trio could have been involved in India’s fifth and final Test against England at Emirates Old Trafford, which was dramatically called off on Friday, just a couple of hours before play on day one due to Covid-19 concerns in the tourists’ camp.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison was alarmed at suggestions the IPL had been prioritised over a prestigious Test match, rejecting the idea the fear of missing out on the T20 tournament had caused the disquiet among India’s squad.
“Let me be super clear, I don’t think the IPL has anything to do with this,” he said on Friday afternoon. “This is not a situation which has been created by the rescheduled IPL, I fundamentally do not believe that for a second. This Indian cricket team are as passionate about Test cricket as fans in our country are.”
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