Monday 13 January 2020 4:26 pm

How English players became the go-to overseas signings for Twenty20 franchises

It may be hard to imagine now, but once upon a time English cricketers were not fixtures of the Twenty20 franchise circuit.

In October England will head to Australia looking to win their second Twenty20 World Cup. Of their probable starting line-up in the first game at the Perth Stadium the vast majority will have played in the pre-eminent domestic T20 competition earlier in the year.

Sam Curran, Jason Roy, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Harry Gurney, Eoin Morgan, Tom Banton, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow have all been picked up to play in this year’s Indian Premier League, where they can hone their skills and test themselves in front of gigantic crowds.

Read more: Why four-day Tests might hinder the best things about Test cricket

This proliferation of English involvement is a far cry from 10 years ago, when just five of England’s T20 World Cup squad played in the IPL.

Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara were the only players to feature in the year that Andy Flower’s side beat Australia in the final to win the trophy.

Delhi Daredevils batsman Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen was one of the first English players to play in the IPL (via Getty Images)

Despite the clear benefits of their IPL involvement, the tournament remained a bone of contention for Flower throughout his reign as head coach.

“The IPL and the international fixtures in England are an area of conflict,” he said in August 2012. “And it will continue to be an area of conflict in the future.”

How different the picture looks now. A softening of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s stance during the tenure of Trevor Bayliss has led to England’s brightest and best heading off around the globe to play franchise cricket at every opportunity.

English flavour

While the IPL will take centre stage when it starts on 28 March, the eyes of the T20 world are currently on Australia, where the Big Bash is well under way.

With England currently on tour in South Africa, there is a dearth of established international players for Australia’s franchises to choose from. But the quality and depth of English talent in cricket’s shortest format has ensured that the league still has a strong Anglo-Saxon flavour.

Chris Jordan
Chris Jordan has established himself as a T20 all-rounder (via Getty Images)

In total there are 10 Englishman signed up to play Big Bash this season, although a stress fracture has ruled Pat Brown out of action for the Melbourne Stars.

While the likes of Alex Hales and Chris Jordan are experienced players with plenty of international caps, it is the opposite end of the scale where the excitement comes from.

Tom Banton announced himself as one of the most destructive and inventive openers in white-ball cricket for Somerset last summer and the 21-year-old has set about wowing crowds Down Under for Brisbane Heat, where he boasts a strike-rate of nearly 200.

Banton’s 16-ball half-century, which included a six off the first ball of the match and five in succession later on, against Sydney Thunder last week was an eye-catching display of his fearless ball-striking.

Tom Curran
Tom Curran has starred for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash (via Getty Images)

Liam Livingstone, meanwhile, may have gone viral for the wrong reasons after being hit in the box three times in a single innings, but his power-hitting and handy off-spin have won him admirers at Perth Scorchers too.

Tom Curran is following up his hugely successful 2018-19 season with Sydney Sixers, establishing himself as a T20 true all-rounder, while Gurney and Richard Gleeson have been tasked with the death bowling for Melbourne Renegades.

The days in which English players were vilified for showing a desire to travel the world and earn a living in franchise T20 cricket are gone, and with the T20 World Cup on the horizon, England look poised to reap the benefits.

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