ENGLAND have apologised to Yorkshire after pulling David Willey and Liam Plunkett out of today’s Royal London Cup game against Durham at the 11th hour.
England announced in March that Willey and Plunkett would be available to play in the match at Headingley, along with international team-mates Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid.
But although Root, Bairstow and Rashid can still play, England revealed yesterday that they now want their pace bowlers – including Willey, Plunkett and Durham’s Mark Wood – to rest ahead of practice in Bristol tomorrow before Friday’s one-day international against Ireland.
Willey and Plunkett will instead travel to Bristol today, with Root, Bairstow and Rashid journeying to the south-west straight after today’s game, which is scheduled to finish at 6.45pm.
Although England have taken away on the one hand, they have given on the other by deciding that the majority of their one-day squad can now rejoin their counties next week.
Yorkshire will have all five of their England players available for the matches away to Northants on Wednesday and away to Warwickshire on May 14.
Initially, they were trying to help the counties by making players available as much as possible, but then they’ve realised that they’ve got practice on Thursday and that some players wouldn’t be finishing until late on Wednesday.Martyn Moxon
The following day, England’s one-day players will undergo testing at the national cricket centre in Loughborough ahead of a three-day training camp in Spain (May 16-19).
This is followed by a three-match, one-day series against South Africa, which starts at Headingley on May 24, and the Champions Trophy, which begins for England on June 1.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said that England had contacted the club to explain their U-turn.
“England have been in touch with us and explained that they’ve reassessed the situation,” he said.
“They’ve held their hands up and apologised and said that they’ve probably made a mistake on this, in that it’s been a bit of an oversight when the original email (regarding player availability) was sent out (in March). We’ve accepted that and we move on.
“The good news is that all our England lads are being allowed to play next week, which we hadn’t been expecting and is a big bonus.”
In addition to Willey, Plunkett and Wood, three other England players have been withdrawn from today’s fixtures.
Pace bowler Steven Finn has been pulled out of Middlesex’s day/night match against Hampshire in Southampton, while batsman Ben Duckett has been withdrawn from Northants’ day/night fixture at home to Worcestershire, for whom all-rounder Moeen Ali has also been rested.
“I think there’d been a little bit of misunderstanding from the England side of things as to the logistics of today’s (Wednesday’s) games,” said Moxon.
“There are a couple that are floodlit, which means obviously that the travelling and late arrival into Bristol tends to cause a problem for England’s practice on Thursday.
“Basically, England are trying to treat all the counties the same. Initially, they were trying to help the counties by making players available as much as possible, but then they’ve realised that they’ve got practice on Thursday and that some players wouldn’t be finishing until late on Wednesday.”
Moxon stressed that Yorkshire have a good relationship with the England hierarchy.
He accepts that it is increasingly hard to balance the interests of the national team with those of the counties.
“It’s just very difficult for all parties to get what they want,” he said.
“The unavoidable thing is that what they (England) need and what we (the counties) need are different sometimes.
“But we have good conversations with the England management; I’ve had a call from Andrew Strauss (England’s director of cricket) on this issue and we’ve gone through it all, while Trevor Bayliss (England head coach) has spoken to Galey (Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first-team coach).
“The positive is that we still have Joe, Jonny and Adil available for the Durham game, and that we have all our England lads next week.”
Strauss said he recognised the frustration felt by clubs and supporters.
“This was always going to be a difficult summer in terms of managing the workload on our England players, with such a hectic schedule including the Champions Trophy as well as seven Tests, followed by an equally busy winter in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“We appreciate all of this causes disruption for counties and frustration for their supporters, and we are grateful to them for seeing the big picture in appreciating the need for us to ensure that key players remain in the best possible condition for the challenges ahead.”
Ben Coad and Karl Carver replace Willey and Plunkett in an otherwise unchanged Yorkshire squad for today’s match.