Chennai Super Kings are confident Ben Stokes will be available for the full season of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL). As the franchise is starting its preparatory camp for the season on Friday (March 3), its CEO Kasi Viswanathan said they have no information contrary to the initial assurances about the full availability of the English players.
“That is our understanding. Before the auction, the BCCI had conveyed to us that the English players will be available for the entire IPL,” the Viswanathan told Cricbuzz on Thursday. “We’ve not had any information that is contrary to the BCCI communication.”
The CSK official’s assertion comes amid reports of Stokes’ injury and in the backdrop of conflicting signals from the player. The England red-ball captain had a knee injury that curtailed his movements in the just-concluded Test against New Zealand at Basin Reserve in Wellington a couple of days back and prior to the Test Stokes had committed to the England team by proclaiming that he would consider leaving the IPL stint early to be in time for England’s Test against Ireland.
“Yes, I’ll play. I’ll be making sure that I give myself enough time to get back and play that (Ireland) game,” Stokes said last week indicating that he will be in London well in time for the Ireland Test which starts at Lord’s on June 1. The Test is immediately followed by the Ashes, the biggest cricketing home fixture for the England team.
The Ireland Test is too close for the IPL dates, which run from March 31 to May 28 and should Chennai Super Kings qualify for the final, then there could be a case of conflicting schedule if not an overlap. In that case, all parties, including the franchise, the player, the BCCI and the England board, will have to come to a common ground on Stokes, for whom the CSK management shelled out Rs 16.25 crore at the auction.
An England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) official brushed aside fears of injury to Stokes and indicated that the English captain will try to negotiate with the franchise so that everyone’s interests are protected. “He’ll manage with his franchise but no date is fixed for his return from the IPL,” the ECB official said while it is learnt from the franchise sources that Stokes had spoken to Stephen Fleming, the coach of CSK, during the Test series in New Zealand.
Call soon on Kyle Jamieson’s replacement
Meanwhile, CSK will start their preparatory camp at the Chepauk Stadium on Friday with most players, including skipper MS Dhoni, attending. Two of their key players, Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad, who are currently at the NCA in Bengaluru, will join the camp a week later.
The camp will also provide an opportunity for the franchise to discuss replacement of Kyle Jamieson. Viswanathan said he will speak to skipper Dhoni and coach Fleming about replacement for the New Zealand pacer, who has been ruled out of the season because of an injury. Jamieson was bought for Rs 1 crore at the auction.