Kevin Pietersen paved the way for England players in IPL: RR opener Ben Stokes

Written by Vishwas Gupta

Back in 2008, when the Indian Premier League saw its inaugural edition, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had made it clear that the board and the county clubs won’t sign No Objection Certificates for players, which was mandatory for participating in the IPL. From then to now, in 2020, when ECB offered the BCCI to host the 13th edition of the IPL, a lot has changed.

Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow, Jofra Archer are all regulars in BCCI’s cash-rich league. The Rajasthan Royals opener Ben Stokes has, in fact, Kevin Pietersen for making it all possible for England players.

‘‘Before Jos and me, it goes further back to Kevin Pietersen’s playing days…it was him who paved the way for England players. It was a very sensitive subject at that time because of the English contract system and he was very vocal about it,” Stokes told Gulf News.

‘‘If he hadn’t voiced his opinions, then we wouldn’t have seen so many English players here. Even if one is not playing, the training and the sheer experience of spending time with greats of the T20 game for over months makes it a worthwhile exercise,’’ he said.

‘‘It shows that pace matters. The likes of Rabada, Archer, Nortje, Siraj (of RCB) have shown what pace can do for you by regularly hitting the 140-plus mark. Someone like Archer bowls two of his overs in the powerplay for us, gets a wicket and doesn’t go for many runs,’’ Stokes added about the importance of pacers in IPL 2020.

The prolific England all-rounder has also revealed that his opener role in RR was something that was long-planned between coach Andrew McDonald and he as they had been planning it even before the final IPL schedule was out.

‘‘I’d had conversations with ‘Macca’ really long ago now, the IPL usually happens earlier in the year, so we had discussions even before that. I’m really enjoying the new role. It’s something that I’ve sort of always wanted to slowly and gradually get into. In the England team, it’s very tough with the amount of quality of batsmen we’ve got, like Jason Roy, Tom Banton, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales and all these guys who’re all opening batsmen, so it’s a very hard place to get into. So yeah, I am really enjoying the opportunity and responsibility I’ve been given here at the Royals,’’ Stokes added.

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Vishwas Gupta