If Ben Stokes goes into the player pool in the 2018 IPL, he will be in great demand and can earn a fortune.
London: Steven Finn will fly to Australia on October 28 as cover for Ben Stokes, who will miss the Ashes tour unless he is cleared by a police investigation. The fallout from his fight in a Bristol street continued on Friday with fines meted out to three teammates — Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett and Jake Ball — for being out with Stokes until the early hours of on the night of his arrest. England were at pains to point out that the decision not to take Stokes to Australia was for the sake of clarity for the squad and to help the management to plan without their star all-rounder. “This decision will help us in the weeks ahead and give every player and the whole England set-up the best chance to focus on the challenge ahead in Australia,” said Andrew Strauss, the England team director. “Steven is a high-quality cricketer, with considerable experience of both international cricket and Australian conditions. The selectors believe he will add to the range of options and the squad will be supported by the arrival of the Lions in Australia in November.” For Finn, it is a complete turnaround from four years ago, when he was sent home from a tour to Australia having been deemed ‘unselectable’ because of problems with his action and a shattering loss of confidence. It is a surprising decision to pick Finn, as England will miss Stokes’s batting in Australia, but not necessarily his bowling. Liam Plunkett would offer more in terms of pace and ability with the bat, but England must be worried about his fitness for five-day cricket, given he played two championship matches this season. The dearth of batting options ruled against choosing a batsman to replace Stokes. Picking an extra bowler retains a four-man pace attack and will mean Moeen Ali, Bairstow and Chris Woakes moving up the order while Finn lengthens the tail. Since the Stokes arrest, most England players have kept a low profile. Only James Anderson and Mark Stoneman attended the PCA dinner on Wednesday night and Joe Root and Stuart Broad pulled out of Jos Buttler’s stag party last weekend. Stokes was awarded a Test-match central contract yesterday, with Alex Hales keeping his for white-ball cricket. It is understood Hales has still not been interviewed by police over the incident in Bristol. Stokes is now in limbo. Privately he has accepted his Ashes tour hopes are over, but it is a very messy situation for all concerned. The one-day squad for the series in Australia and New Zealand in the new year was supposed to be announced last week but will now not be named until the end of November. England had wanted to release it early so players could plan their Twenty20 contracts for the first half of the winter. But they are now waiting to see if Stokes will be available for the ODI tour. Where it will become tricky for the ECB is over his IPL participation. Stokes will be the most attractive player in the IPL auction next year when players will earn three-year contracts. He signed only a one-year deal with Pune and, if he goes into the player pool in 2018, can expect to be wanted by several franchises, which will inflate his price further. The IPL will be awash with money as a result of its new television deal and stars such as Stokes will cash in. He has been placed on indefinite suspension from England duty by the ECB, although officially it has not used the word suspension under pressure from his lawyers, who fear prejudicing any proceedings. He could be refused clearance to play, which would cost Stokes a fortune and could be challenged. It certainly threatens to strain relations between Strauss and Stokes. —The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2017