England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said the whole England team should experience playing in the Indian Premier league (IPL) to improve their game, following his highly successful stint in this year's tournament.
Stokes was the most expensive player signed in the player auction at £1.7 million and had an outstanding campaign for the Rising Pune Supergiant. With 316 runs and 12 wickets, he was voted the most valuable player in the tournament.
The all-rounder and England team-mates Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes were allowed to stay in India and miss the two one-day internationals against Ireland earlier this month, but they are all back now ahead of the opening game of the three-match series against South Africa at Headingley today (May 24th). Stokes did, however, miss the final due to his return, which Pune lost by a single run.
Stokes said of the IPL: "Everyone who goes there becomes a better player. It would be great in the future if maybe the whole England team could be out there."
"It's not just the fact of playing in the tournament, it's the exposure you get as a player. Playing in high pressure situations against all the best players in the world at what they do - guys bowling at 150kph [93mph] and guys knocking it out of the park if you do not hit the areas you want to bowl."
Speaking on the BBC Radio 5 Live Tuffers and Vaughan Show, Buttler said the IPL had been "a bit of a taboo subject in English cricket for a while," but was glad this is now starting to change.
Fans booking corporate hospitality for England's ICC Champions Trophy games at the Kia Oval and Edgbaston will hope the IPL experience will help Stokes, Buttler and Woakes to produce stellar performances as England seek their first global 50-over trophy.
Stokes said England have "earned the right to be favourites" with their strong performances in one-day cricket after the early exit at the 2015 World Cup, with the team's changed approach seeing batsmen liberated to play in an innovative and explosive fashion, posting mammoth totals that included England's first ever score of over 400 in a 50-over game against New Zealand in the summer of 2015 and the highest individual score by an Englishman when Alex Hales hit 173 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last year.
After the Headingley game, England will face the South Africans at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton and finally Lord's, with skipper Eoin Morgan describing the return of the three stars from the IPL as a "huge boost".
South Africa will be keen to show they are among the challengers too, with key players including big-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, the world number one-rated one-day international batsman A.B. de Villiers and the hugely talented young fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.
They will be keen to win the tournament and shake off an unwanted tag of 'chokers', as a side that have often snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Having lost the last two ICC Champions Trophy tournaments to be played in England, the home team will have a similar mission.