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Dhoni: English schedule a 'big concern' for IPL

ESPNcricinfo staff
December 19, 2012
Kevin Pietersen is one of the few England players with an IPL contract © AFP

MS Dhoni, India's captain, has suggested that a lack of availability rather than talent will continue to be a barrier for England players wishing to participate in the IPL.

Although England's Test series win in India has raised the profiles of several members of the squad, Dhoni said the limited window permitted by the ECB for IPL participation was a "big concern" for franchises.

IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla had suggested that the likes of Test captain Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar may be of interest when the next auction for international players takes place. However, with England commitments taking a higher priority, Dhoni said only "special" players like Kevin Pietersen would be of interest to franchises.

"Most of the time when the IPL happens, I don't think the English team has a clear period - so they're not available for the full 45 to 50 days of cricket," Dhoni said. "That's a big concern when it comes to some of the IPL franchises.

"The English team have fantastic talent, players who can have a big impact in the shorter format. If most of them were available for the full 45 or 50 days, I could see England players coming to the IPL."

The IPL in 2013 is scheduled to begin on April 3, a week after England finish their tour of New Zealand, and will run until May 26. England's home series against New Zealand begins with the first of two Tests on May 16, further curtailing any potential for involvement.

Pietersen and Eoin Morgan are the only current, centrally contracted England players with IPL deals and, when asked, Dhoni was unsure if many others would be joining them in the world's most glamorous T20 tournament.

"Kevin Pietersen is a really different batsman," Dhoni said. "If he's available for half a season, the sides can still gamble that he can play seven or eight games at least. He's a special player. But you have to be that special."

Several members of the England setup, including Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Matt Prior, entered the 2012 auction only to prove unattractive. Stuart Broad was bought by Kings XI Punjab in 2011 but was ruled out by injury in consecutive seasons before being released. Luke Wright, who is a member of England's T20 squad but not in possession of a central contract, is part of Pune Warrior's squad for 2013.

Despite various obstacles - in Cook's case, not even being considered good enough for England's T20 side - Shukla had suggested that the Test series victory could capture the imagination of franchise owners and public alike.

"I think so, I think it might well do that," Shukla told the Times. "England have done very well and the franchises are most definitely aware of what has been happening in this series. The English domestic schedule can make it difficult for players to play for long here, and franchises will look at that, but these Test matches have definitely raised expectations of the players from television viewers. I am sure Indian people would love to see them again.

"Cook might be one. Test and Twenty20 cricket are different but Indian people know about him now as he made a very good impression. Monty Panesar could definitely be another, he is very popular over here already, and there are probably some others."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.