Punjab Kings have mixed news coming their way as one of their superstars Jonny Bairstow is set to miss the upcoming IPL 2023 while another Liam Livingstone will mark his return to action. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have cleared Livingstone but haven't given No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Bairstow, who is still recovering from an injury.
Bairstow had suffered a freak injury last year while playing golf, breaking his leg and ankle. He underwent surgery in October and has been out of action since August. Bairstow is expected to be up and running but given the gravity of his injury and long layoff, the ECB have decided against risking him in the IPL, which begins on March 31.
The ECB is hopeful that Bairstow will be fully fit for the Ashes which is scheduled to take place in June-July. The 33yr old was at the heart of England's resurgence in Test cricket last year. He amassed 1061 in the year at an average of 66.31 and strike rate of 76. Bairstow was even better under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum-led Bazball, smashing 681 runs in six games at 75.66 average while striking at a ridiculous 96.59. Despite that, he might have to fight for his spot with Harry Brook and Ben Foakes in outstanding form.
Bairstow was bought by Punjab Kings for ₹6.75 crore in the 2022 auction, and was amongst the three key English players for Punjab Kings alongside Livingstone and Sam Curran.
Bairstow's unavailability is a massive blow for the Kings who were banking on the Englishman's explosive starts, especially after releasing Indian star Mayank Agarwal. Bairstow has played 39 matches in the IPL, scoring 1291 runs at an average of 36 and strike rate of 143. Whether they will get a replacement for the English batter remains unclear.
Livingstone to be available for the entire season
Livingstone hasn't played competitive cricket since the Rawalpindi Test last December due to knee and ankle injuries. He was recently part of the Lancashire's off-season training in Dubai. Livingstone was snapped up by Punjab Kings for ₹11.50 crore in the 2022 auction and was one of their best performing players in the season. The all-rounder had hammered 437 runs last season at an average of 36 and strike rate of 182 while also picking six wickets.
Apart from Livingstone, the ECB has also issued NOCs to all IPL-bound players including Curran, Ben Stokes (Chennai Super Kings), Mark Wood (Lucknow Super Giants) and Jofra Archer (Mumbai Indians).
Curran became the most expensive player in the history of IPL earlier this year when Punjab bought him for ₹18.50 crore. Will Jacks was already ruled out of season with Royal Challengers Bangalore naming Michael Bracewell as his replacement. Jacks was bought for ₹3.2 crore but sustained a muscle injury while fielding during the second ODI against Bangladesh.