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Monty Panesar cleared by Sussex for IPL auction
Sussex are willing to let left-arm spinner Monty Panesar participate in this year's IPL, despite acknowledging that his absence could hinder their chances in the County Championship.
Panesar is among three England players to have been given permission to appear in this year's IPL auction alongside his England and Sussex team-mate Matt Prior and Essex's Ravi Bopara. If, as expected, Luke Wright also returns to the IPL, it could mean that Sussex are without three of their senior players for the first few weeks of the season. While Panesar and Prior have both appeared in the auction before without attracting any takers, their success in the recent Test series in India will have done their chances of finding a team this year no harm.
The IPL begins on April 3, with the ECB asking that any of those involved who may be selected in the Test team return to England in time to appear in the final round of Championship matches, ahead of the first Test against New Zealand that begins on May 16. That means that Sussex, who have a light early-season schedule, should only be without Panesar and co. for two games and he may have to be back in England before the end of April. Their last game before the Test begins on May 1.
All players are required to obtain No Objection Certificates from their counties or national boards. While Nottinghamshire have forbidden their players from participating in the IPL - Michael Lumb, Alex Hales and Samit Patel were all keen to appear in the auction - on the grounds that their absence would severely dent the club's chances of success, Sussex have taken a different approach.
In the case of Panesar at least, they probably had no choice as the player negotiated a clause in his contract when he joined Sussex at the end of 2009 that ensured he could be released for the IPL.
"It's not ideal for us," Sussex's head coach Mark Robinson told ESPNcricinfo. "It could cost us the chance of winning the County Championship, but we understand that it's a great opportunity for the players.
"It's a bit of a myth that players go for the money. Such is the compensation they have to pay to their counties that, unless they go for over $400,000, they probably aren't making a lot. Certainly in the case of Monty, he just wants to improve as a limited-overs cricketer and we respect that."
Essex are another club who will be hit by withdrawals. Apart from Bopara, they expect Owais Shah and Ryan ten Doeschate to continue with Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively. Neither will appear in the auction.
Nottinghamshire are, as yet, the only club to forbid their players from taking part. While Angus Porter, the chief executive of the PCA, the players' union, warned that such a stance might count against the county when players are considering joining the club or new contracts - they may prefer clubs which let them go to the IPL or expect compensation from Nottinghamshire - it could equally prove that the decision provides the team with a vital edge at the start of the 2013 season. Other counties will be watching Nottinghamshire with interest. If there are no signs that the affected players are disgruntled and results go their way, it would be no surprise if others followed suit in future years.
Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan already have deals with Delhi Daredevils and Knight Riders respectively. The availability of the rest of the England squad has yet to be decided. While Panesar and Prior are currently only involved with the Test squad and Bopara has dropped out of all three formats at present, the availability of other senior players for the IPL is likely to be limited. England have a heavy schedule in 2013 so the chances of any bowler with a central contract - the likes of Graeme Swann, who is currently rated No. 3 in the ICC rankings for international T20 cricket - Stuart Broad and James Anderson are unlikely to be made available.
An ECB spokesman told ESPNcricinfo: "Releasing players to participate in the IPL is not just a rubber stamping exercise. It's too early to say which England players will be released for it, but a decision will be made on all centrally-contracted players after a consideration of injury avoidance and workload management."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo