England all-rounder David Willey believes counties need to be open-minded about their players playing in the Indian Premier League.
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With the passage of time, almost every major cricketing nation has embraced the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL). The richest league in the world by a mile not only ensures the players get a hefty package but also give them an opportunity to share the dressing room with some of the top cricketers in the world.
The likes of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand had never hesitated in sending their players to the cricketing extravaganza in India.
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However, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has not been as inclined towards sending players to India during this time of the year. One of the prime reasons is that the county season coincides with the IPL.
Even this year, there was controversy when David Willey signed up for Chennai Super Kings just days before the start of the County Championship season.
Willey had also withdrawn from Yorkshire’s friendly with Leicestershire to join the IPL side.
Willey was the 12th English star to join IPL this year – more than in any previous year. Durham’s Mark Wood, Surrey’s Tom Curran, and the Yorkshire pair of Liam Plunkett and Willey were signed up as replacement players who pretty much scuppered the county teams’ plans just before the season.
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And Willey had now revealed Yorkshire had threatened to “rip up his contract” when he decided to play in the IPL.
“I think the landscape of the modern game is changing, I do think that counties should try and work with it rather than work against it and look at the longer term picture,” he says. “Ultimately, you would think that their counties will benefit from it. Whether it be immediately that summer when they come back and contribute to winning games or whether they go on and help develop youngsters down the line.”
He further said that he did not have any doubt in his mind when the offer to play in the IPL came.
“There is no better way for young guys to learn than to play with experienced guys who have played all around the world. If counties had that outward look at these competitions as a longer-term benefit, it would be better for everyone involved. There would be less arguments and fallouts along the way. You don’t get the chance to go and play in the biggest T20 competition in the world every day so it was a no-brainer for me.”
Willey, however, did not get to play ample games in India. The left-arm seamer played just three games but insisted he had a great experience.
“It was a great experience to be a part of, having the chance to see how these great internationals of past and present go about their cricket and how they structure their game for T20. I feel like not only have I found my enjoyment for the game again, I’ve also learnt a lot from a tactical, mental and skill point of view as well,” he said.
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He also had a word of praise for Super Kings skipper, MS Dhoni.
“I learnt just as much from watching guys like him as I did from the few games I played in,” Willey says. “How calm he is and how he thinks about the game when he is batting was great to learn from. Things like that are invaluable when you are learning about the game.”