Wellington: World’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes won’t allow Indian Premier League (IPL) come in the way of national duty, saying he would prefer to fly back and lead England against Ireland in the build-up Test ahead of the high-stakes Ashes series even if his franchise makes the final.
Stokes had missed the last edition of the world’s most popular T20 tournament but is set to wear the yellow Chennai Super Kings (CSK) jersey this season, starting March 31.
The IPL final is slated for May 28 while England take on Ireland in the one-off warm-up Test from June 1.
CSK play their first game of the season against Lucknow Supergiants on April 3.
“Yes, I’ll play,” Stokes said when asked if he would play for England even if CSK qualify for the title clash.
“I’ll be making sure that I give myself enough time to get back and play that game (against Ireland).”
There has been a debate in international cricket whether players are preferring private leagues over national duty.
Stokes said he can’t say about the choice of his England colleagues.
Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Harry Brook all have IPL contracts.
“I think it’s a little bit too far ahead to say for others, but one thing I’ve got to look at is we’ve got the Ashes after the Ireland Test, so I’ll probably get round the individuals and ask them what they want to be ready for the Ashes,” Stokes said.
“Those five games are obviously the big ones of the summer and you’ve got to think about what lads want, but you also have to think about if something was to happen in that game and we lose someone for the Ashes.
“It’s just one of those where you have to weigh up the options of what the individual person actually wants out of that week versus do we really need to play that one? Because I’m obviously right in saying that series is bigger than that game against Ireland.”
The five-match Ashes will begin on June 16 in Birmingham.