BENGALURU: Ravichandran Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma are likely to head to England in the coming days to participate in the final rounds of the County Championship. The trio are not the only ones who will board the flight to Heathrow. The indication coming from the team-management in Sri Lanka is that depending on who makes the squad for the limited-overs leg of the tour, one or two more players might also join.
The selectors will name the squad on Sunday and the indication is that Ashwin will not be a part and instead has been told by the management to explore the possibility of playing county cricket. Pujara and Ishant have not been part of the limited-overs scheme of things. There is however, a confusion surrounding Ravindra Jadeja as it is understood that the all-rounder has generated interest from a couple of county sides and selectors are yet to decide whether to rest him completely or release him. Even if Ashwin plays in England, it will be interesting as the off-spinner has had plenty of workload over the last year.
If at all the move materialises, it would be first instance of Indian players being released from international duty to get exposure in English conditions. Sources in the team-management revealed that this is being done keeping in mind that India will be touring England next year for a five-match Test series. Newly-appointed head coach Ravi Shastri wants some of his players to experience conditions before hand.
“The idea is to give players a chance to explore and get a feel of the conditions there. Though these players have toured England before, playing county cricket will add to their knowledge about local conditions,” sources in the know told Express on Saturday.
However, news emerging from the BCCI was that the team-management was yet to submit a request as it needs the board’s clearance and a no-objection certificate has to be obtained before a player strikes a deal with a county team. Worcestershire, are reportedly, keen on having either Jadeja or Ashwin on board, while Pujara is likely to join Nottinghamshire, for whom he played in the opening round of fixtures this season. “The team-management hasn’t approached us as of now.
But if they want, this will be given consideration and the BCCI would look try to help them in any way it can. The board so far has informed selectors about selection. If at all the players are to play county cricket, it will be a collective decision,” a highly-placed board official said. During the previous tour of England in 2014, Ashwin struggled to get a look-in during the first three Tests, before playing the last two and picking three wickets. Pujara, too, had a forgettable tour tallying only 222 runs in five Tests. Ishant, who took seven wickets in the second Test, had 14 to his name in three Tests.