T20 cricket’s showpiece tournament, the Indian Premier League, is back for a tenth edition, and this year involves a record number of English players.
However, a week into the tournament, the Englishmen have underwhelmed.
After he broke the record for the most expensive international signing ever at the auction back in February, Ben Stokes has been under immense pressure to perform in his opening three games. The £1.7 million-man’s bowling has failed to impress: bowling the 20th over against the Delhi Daredevils, he was dispatched for 23 runs by the South African Chris Morris in a performance that seemed like a horrible throwback to his infamous final over of the World T20 final last year. With the bat, a well-made 50 on Saturday was a timely reminder of his undisputed talent.
After a series of mightily impressive performances in the Test arena, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Chris Woakes has found the transition to limited overs cricket challenging. He recently confessed that he must improve his bowling at the back end of the innings, and after a solid start, he will improve as the tournament progresses and he begins to find his rhythm.
Jos Buttler returned to the IPL as one of the few English players to have taken part last season. He has found himself in an entirely new role however, opening the batting for Mumbai Indians. But he has flourished in that position, hitting his highest Twenty20 score of 77 on Thursday off just 37 balls. Indeed, it would be silly to bet against Buttler bettering that before the tournament is out.
Injury to South African superstar Quinton de Kock presented Sam Billings with an opportunity to impress for Delhi. He has got his side off to some quick starts so far with breezy knocks of 24 and 25, but his side’s overall IPL record is so poor that he may be the victim of restructuring in the side as the tournament goes on.
Meanwhile, Jason Roy and Tymal Mills have already been dropped by their franchises after playing in their sides’ opening games. After signing for £1.4 million, left-armer Mills would have been hoping for a better return than his three wickets so far, and with stand-in Royal Challengers skipper Shane Watson using him ineffectively, he was left out of the side to face Stokes’ Pune on Sunday. Roy, meanwhile, has failed to score heavily, and bizarrely went in at number six against Mumbai.
Finally, both Eoin Morgan and Chris Jordan have failed to play a game for their sides: time will tell if they would have been better off honing their red-ball skills in county cricket.