Kumar Sangakkara says agreement with ECB means Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer will play “whole tournament”

Kumar Sangakkara says that Rajasthan Royals are confident of getting first refusal on the availability of England’s trio of star players – Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler – during this year’s IPL, even if their potential involvement in the play-off phase causes them to miss the Lord’s Test against New Zealand.

Although the dates of the IPL have yet to be confirmed, it is anticipated that the final rounds will take place in the first week of June, which means that England’s trio stand to miss the visit of New Zealand – the current World No.1 Test team – for at least for the first Test, between June 2-6, and depending on flights and quarantine periods, the second at Edgbaston as well, from June 10-14.

Although the ECB’s attitude towards the IPL has softened in recent years, particularly in light of England’s victory at the 2019 World Cup, the notion of the tournament taking precedence over a Test match is a line in the sand that has not previously been crossed in the 12 years since England’s players were first permitted to take part.

Sangakkara, however, is in no doubt where the balance of power lies, following what he described as a “tripartite” discussion between the BCCI, the ECB, and the franchises, the results of which were relayed in an email last week which stated clearly that franchises were “requested” to release non-starting players for Test selection, but that no such obligation existed for core team members such as Stokes, Archer and Buttler.

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