England allrounder Ben Stokes was sold at a record-breaking price of Rs 14.5 crore in 2017 IPL auctions. The explosive batsman was bought by Pune Rising Supergiant and he justified his pricing by scoring 316 runs in 12 matches at an average of 31.60 and a strike rate of 142.98. He also took 12 wickets at an average of 26.33 and took his side to the final against Mumbai Indians. The right-hand batsman was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for the year for his efforts.
In spite of his performance, whether the cricketer will return this year for the IPL was doubtful. Stokes was not included in the England squad for the ongoing Ashes series against Australia because of the pending investigations against him over a drunken brawl incident outside a pub in Bristol in September this year. Many wondered whether England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will allow him to return to India to play the tournament.
But ECB chief executive Tom Harrison on Sunday told reporters said that the board will not mind allowing Stokes to return to the tournament. “Ben asked for an NOC to play in New Zealand and we were happy to grant one. What he does with his time is up to him. He remains on full pay,” he said.
Harrison added that the choice to play IPL remains completely on Stokes himself. “It’s up to Ben to decide if he wants to play in the IPL. We could say we don’t want him to go but I imagine that, having given him an NOC to go and play in New Zealand, it would be difficult for us to say we would not apply the same thinking towards playing in other parts of the world.”
Stokes recently played T20 cricket for Canterbury where he smashed 96 runs in 45 ball in one match and gave an example of his talent. In case the 26-year old decided to return to India for the tournament, he will be available on the table and could be one of the first choices for all eight teams.