London - Andrew Strauss believes letting England stars such
as Ben Stokes play in the Indian Premier League is worth any potential injury
All-rounder Stokes, paid a record $2.16 million to take part
in this year's IPL, was named the tournament's most valuable player after
helping Rising Pune Supergiant reach the knockout phase in the cash-rich
He returned to hit a match-winning hundred as England
clinched a one-day international series victory over South Africa at
Southampton on Saturday.
But he only bowled five overs in two matches against the
Proteas and was rested from Monday's seven-wicket defeat at Lord's with a knee
injury, having already had surgery last year.
Chris Woakes, also recently returned from the IPL, missed
both the Southampton and Lord's matches because of a thigh muscle problem,
although he and Stokes, together with Moeen Ali (groin), are all expected to
face Bangladesh in England's Champions Trophy opener at the Oval on Thursday.
England and Wales Cricket Board director Strauss is well
aware of the already packed schedule confronting players who remain solely on
international duty, but said what those who appeared in the IPL learnt
outweighed the chance of an injury.
"That is the slight risk you take when you make people
available for a chunk of cricket that is outside the international
schedule," he explained.
"Injuries are part and parcel of the life generally,
but on one hand you weigh up the potential risk and on the other you ask what
they can potentially gain from that experience."
Strauss played down concerns about the fitness of Stokes and
Woakes by saying: "Thankfully I don't think any of those injuries are of
massive concern at this stage."
With white-ball cricket an early season priority given
England are hosting the Champions Trophy, the ECB changed course this year by
letting star men take part in the IPL.
But former England captain Strauss said he would be
reluctant to let senior players go to the IPL if it meant they were unavailable
for Test duty.
"When you get to the stage where you're missing Test
matches to play in IPL that sends out a very strong message about where your
priorities are - and I would be uncomfortable with that."
Strauss said trying to balance a player's commitments was no
simple task in an era of franchise cricket.
"It's not an easy one to navigate our way
through," he admitted.
"I think the players who have gone over (to India this
year) and played a number of games have benefited massively from the
"(But) we've always got to balance that great
opportunity for them with the schedules and workloads and the importance of us
peaking for important series as an international team."
England have never won a major one-day international trophy
but Strauss, who has put a renewed emphasis on white-ball cricket since taking
up his ECB role, was upbeat about their Champions Trophy chances.
"We've match-winners from one to seven, so I think
other teams will look at us and think they're up against dangerous
opposition," he said.
"But one thing we do know about the Champions Trophy is
that there's no margin for error.
"You can't afford any bad days, so you're a little bit
in the lap of the gods."
Monday saw England collapse to 20 for six at Lord's as South
Africa's pacemen made the most of cloud cover.
But former opening batsman Strauss was happy with the
dynamic way England have played the 50-over game under white-ball captain Eoin
Morgan since a woeful first-round exit from the 2015 World Cup.
"When you're trying to play a high-tempo, more
positive, aggressive style of play, at the back of your mind, you almost have
to accept you're going to get it wrong now and again and you're going to have
some bad days along the way," he said.