The ICC Champions Trophy is fast approaching and it will bring together some of the most destructive hitting on the planet as the world’s biggest powers clash once again.
The tournament will be held in England and Wales, with the hosts among the favourites to lift the trophy, although fans of England will cite that being among the favourites very rarely transfers into a real triumph in cricket, as well as football and rugby.
The Three Lions have a very strong team for the tournament with their batting in particular rivalling the very best in the world. The likes of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes are all explosive players and can take a game away from their opponent in a matter of overs, meaning they are exceptionally valuable members of the team.
It is vital for England’s development then that they allow their players to continue to cultivate their own growth and improvement, something they haven’t actually been allowed to do.
England’s management have seen fit to organise a training camp in Spain on the final week of the Indian Premier League. While this is a good opportunity for team building and for tactics and plans to be shared, it has deprived Stokes and Buttler the chance of playing in the IPL final.
Stokes Rising Pune Supergiants will face off against Buttler’s Mumbai Indians, well, that would be the case if England had not decided to call on their players to return for the camp in Spain.
It is incredible that two of England’s leading players should be deprived of the opportunity to partake in the final when they have been so instrumental in their former teams getting there. Buttler’s explosive performances with the bat allowed Mumbai to qualify as the first placed team while Stokes’ side qualified in second due to his ability with both bat and ball.
While this experience will have helped the two to improve in the shortest format massively, taking them away from the final will hinder their progress.
Nobody, not least Stokes, needs reminding of Carlos Braithwaite’s match winning cameo in the 2016 World Cup final as he hammered the Englishman all over the park in the final over to gift the West Indies the title over England. The agony was visible on Stokes’ face, and it is something that many would struggle to come back from.
The IPL final would be the first showpiece event that Stokes has appeared in since that infamous defeat and it would give him a huge chance to banish the demons of that nightmare. If he were to win it would also give him valuable experience of earning victory in a massive event and staying calm and composed, something that is missing from the current England team.
Instead, this training camp deprives him of this chance and means that those same demons could come back to haunt him in the final of the upcoming tournament should England reach it.
For Buttler, it will represent losing experience in a final and it could breed resentment considering a lot of time and effort has been put in by both the batsman and his team in reaching the event. Perhaps next season the IPL sides will think twice about employing the English players if they are to lose them at the most pivotal point in the tournament.
From England’s perspective they also lose out on that valuable experience for their players. Australia wouldn’t pull David Warner from the IPL in the same way many other nations would refuse to do it as well. The best players should be playing in the biggest events and as much as possible to stay in form and grow as batsmen or bowlers.
This is where England have failed their two best players. They must look to remedy this in the future otherwise the Three Lions will forever be a step behind their nearest rivals.
After all, with the ability to hit a double Test century like this, Stokes will only be more inclined to hit bigger in the shorter formats: