County trio seeking stint on the sub-continent

David Willey (left) and Steven Crook could be playing in the IPL come April
David Willey (left) and Steven Crook could be playing in the IPL come April
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Northamptonshire could have three members of their playing staff involved in next month’s Indian Premier League auction.

David Willey, Steven Crook and Muhammad Azharullah are all expected to put their names in the hat for the annual player sale that takes place on February 12.

This news is not entirely surprising with the club admitting in the past that they would not stand in the way of any player putting his name forward, but it does raise the possibility, remote or otherwise, of a trio of key players missing a substantial chunk of the domestic campaign.

The seventh edition of the cash-saturated tournament gets under way on April 8, five days before the County get their season under way against Durham in the County Championship, and concludes with the final on May 30.

By this stage of the summer, five Championship - six of you count the one that starts on May 31 - and four Twenty20 fixtures will have been completed and although this would appear tantamount to shooting yourself in the foot, chief executive David Smith says there is method to the club’s policy.

He said: “We’ve said all along that we wouldn’t stand in anyone’s way if they wanted to go.

“We wouldn’t take any money from them if they did go and our hope is that they would come back as better players which would help us out.

“Quite simply, it’s a battle that we can’t win (keeping players here) so it’s one that we’re not prepared to fight.”

The chances of all three players being picked up are relatively slim given the way previous auctions have unfolded but Smith admitted that discussions have taken place with regard to a contingency plan.

And this especially applies to Jackson Bird who is also in the auction and should be be bought by one of the franchises, would miss half of the period he is scheduled to be at the County Ground for.

“That could be a problem for us and we would definitely have to look at that (overseas player) issue,” Smith added.

“We knew before we signed Jackson that this could be a possibility but we’ve been prepared to go along with it.

“I don’t think he will get picked up but you never know and we’ve got a shortlist of alternatives to look at in case.”