England players should not miss international duty to play in IPL: Atherton

Atherton felt Ben Stokes is a “viable alternative” to replace Joe Root as skipper for the five-day format

The English cricketers should not miss international duty at the expense of playing in the IPL, former England captain Michael Atherton has said in the wake of the team’s disastrous Ashes campaign in Australia.

England have already conceded the five-match series Down Under against their traditional rivals after suffering heavy defeats in the first three Tests, the poor show attracting widespread criticism from former players.

"Players should not miss international duty to play in the IPL, nor be rested and rotated to allow them to play elsewhere. The carry-on during the winter, and at the start of the English summer, should not happen again," Atherton wrote in his column for The Times.

With regards to the glitzy IPL, the former captain also had other suggestions to help improve England’s performance in the international arena’s red-ball format.

"The leading multi-format players are paid seven-figure sums, but, incredibly, the ECB washes its hands of them for two months of the year during the Indian Premier League.

“The players should be told that, while the ECB will be accommodating of the request to play in the IPL, a 12-month contract is exactly that, and the granting of a no-objection certificate to play in the IPL and other franchised competitions is contingent on it being in the best interests of the England team," Atherton said.

Some of the prominent England players who have played in the IPL from the current setup are Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sam Curran, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Adil Rashid, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow.

England captaincy

Atherton, who has captained England in 54 Tests from 1993 to 2001, felt Ben Stokes is a "viable alternative" to replace Joe Root as skipper for the five-day format.

Root, who had a magnificent run with the bat in 2021, has been under the scanner for his captaincy in Australia.

"There have been so many errors here, from selection to strategy, that the captain has to bear personal responsibility … This could have been a much closer series had Root got things right on the field," Atherton wrote.

"Root has been a good England captain, and has always carried himself superbly and is an incredible ambassador for the sport, but having done the job for five years and having had three cracks at the Ashes, including two awful campaigns in Australia, it is time for someone else to have a go.

"Ben Stokes is a viable alternative, having done an excellent job as a stand-in briefly in the summer. His bowling is starting to wind down, and, as he may not get into England’s best T20 side now, he can be given a breather during those matches," Atherton added.

As far as head coach Chris Silverhood is concerned, Atherton said it’s time he is shown the door.

"At the moment there seems to be an absence of authority and an unwillingness to challenge the players.

"There is no way Silverwood will (or should) survive the Ashes, which should allow a reorganisation of the coaching and selecting responsibilities."

The fourth Test begins in Sydney on January 5.

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