Williamson undecided over potential Test clash with IPL
Kiwi skipper says having a Test match scheduled at the same time as the IPL is 'certainly not the preferred thing'
21 February 2021, 08:01 PM AEST
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is yet to confirm if he will be available for the start of his side's upcoming Test campaign against England due to a possible clash with the Indian Premier League.
While the dates for the 2021 IPL are yet to be confirmed, it's been widely reported that the tournament could stretch into June, which would mean a clash with at least part of NZ's two-Test series in England, which runs from June 2 to 14.
The Rajasthan Royals franchise have already said they expect England stars Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler to be available for the entire IPL campaign, meaning they will likely miss some of the NZ series.
Test stars Williamson, Trent Boult, and Kyle Jamieson are amongst a handful of Kiwis with IPL deals and the skipper has conceded he's not yet sure if he'll be available for the Tests in England.
The two-Test series was announced just last month, a late addition to England's 2021 summer schedule that does not count towards the World Test Championship.
The Kiwis have qualified for the WTC Final, which is expected to be played at Lord's after the England series, making the two-match campaign the ideal preparation for the inaugural final.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White has already indicated his players won't be forced to play in the England Tests if they clash with their IPL commitments.
"NZC will take a pragmatic approach as these fixtures are a late addition to the schedule," White told Stuff last week. "We will work through the decision in conjunction with the players."
With the IPL schedule yet to be formally announced and given the uncertainty around COVID-19 quarantine protocols when travelling from one country to another, Williamson said his movements for that period are not yet clear.
"It's really hard to know and it's certainly not the preferred thing," Williamson said on Sunday of the potential clash.
"I know when plans were put in place that wasn't the idea. And then, as we've seen, you can make plans in this day in age and very rarely do they go to plan.
"For us it's being able to adapt as quickly as possible, we still have to wait and see when dates are finalised to truly know what is happening before any decision is made. But the ideal scenario is to be available and around for all that cricket. We'll just have to wait and see."
Williamson's comments come after Rajasthan Royals director of cricket, Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara, said the franchise's English players will stay at the IPL this year for as long as they are needed.
"That is our understanding, yes," he said. "The feedback we got was that they should be available for the franchise."
Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran, who have all been part of England's Test squad this year, also have IPL deals.
Last week, Bangladesh granted leave to star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan to miss their upcoming Tests against Sri Lanka so that he can play in the IPL.
Players from New Zealand and England have never previously missed a Test match due to a clash with the IPL.
Bairstow, who has a white-ball contract with England but not one to play red-ball cricket, said it would be difficult for the ECB to tell their players to not play in the IPL.
"I think for guys who are white-ball contracted, you can't say 'don't go' because that's kind of the contract they've got in England. If you go for big money, it is very hard for anybody to turn it down," Bairstow said.
"If guys are going to the IPL and improving their skills that doesn't just mean they are improving their skills for T20 cricket.
"It's improving their skills for ODI and Test cricket as well by playing with some of the best players in the world and learning from them, especially with a T20 World Cup coming up here in India. It covers all three formats."
Australia's international schedule is not expected to clash with this year's IPL and Cricket Australia's interim CEO, Nick Hockley, said earlier this month that allowing its players to travel and take part will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.