Josh Little becomes first Ireland cricketer to earn Indian Premier League deal

During the 2023 IPL mini-auction in Kochi on Friday, left-arm pacer Josh Little was roped in by defending champions Gujarat Titans for INR 4.4 crore. From his base price of INR 50 lakh, Little got a deal which was 8.8 times more than the amount he went into the auction.

Through this, Little becomes the first Ireland player to earn an IPL contract. Little, 23, made his international debut for Ireland in 2016 and has since played two ODIs and 53 T20Is for his country.

He burst onto the international radar in May 2019, where in his ODI debut when he claimed 4-45 in a devastating spell of pace bowling against England in Dublin — which saw him remove three of the top four batters, including then-captain Eoin Morgan for a duck.

Little’s most recent bowling exploits for Ireland were in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup against New Zealand, when he became the sixth bowler and second-ever from his country to pick a hat-trick in the global tournament, where he picked 11 wickets overall.

“I’m delighted to have been signed by the defending champions, the Gujarat Titans, and look forward to playing under Hardik Pandya within such a high-quality squad. I’m also looking forward to working with coach Ashish Nehra and would like to thank the management team at the Titans for believing in me,” said Little in a Cricket Ireland statement on being part of IPL 2023.

Shortly after Little was picked by Gujarat Titans, Cricket Ireland indicated to both the player and the tournament organiser that a No Objection Certificate (NOC) would be issued that would allow Little to participate in the entire IPL 2023 season.

But there will be one brief exception that covers the three World Cup Super League ODIs for Ireland against Bangladesh in May 2023, with 30 points up for grabs for the European side to get an automatic qualification for ODI World Cup in India later in the year.

“We are delighted for Josh and wish him well in the IPL next year. Josh is a hard-working and dedicated athlete who has come up through the Irish system. He has been an essential part of the Irish set-up for several years now and we believe his development will only accelerate further through involvement in the IPL.”

“We have carved out the three ODIs against Bangladesh at home in early 2023 from the deal, given the potential crucial nature of those fixtures in the context of our World Cup qualification. The impact of franchise cricket is increasingly front-of-mind for Cricket Ireland as our standing grows on the world stage and the profile of our players increases significantly.”

“Our policy, in general, is that we maintain strong support of our international and contracted players playing in domestic leagues where this helps their development, provides cricket during gaps in our calendar and provides additional income for the player.”

“We release players to play in a high-quality domestic franchise event which the selectors deem beneficial to the player’s development, and which do not compromise the national team’s performance or development.”

“This explains why Josh will be released for all but the most important of our pre-season international series, the World Cup Super League matches against Bangladesh in May. In addition, we will generally not release players after a squad selection has been announced,” said Richard Holdsworth, High-Performance Director for Cricket Ireland.

Little has also featured in several franchise leagues — Lanka Premier League and The Hundred. He had been a net bowler for Chennai Super Kings, the four-time champions, in IPL 2022. He also has upcoming T20 franchise deals with Pretoria Capitals in SA20 and Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2023, apart from the IPL.

“I have loved playing international cricket for Ireland — and that will always remain my priority, but to be able to learn and play in the IPL will be an incredible opportunity and thanks to Cricket Ireland for supporting me in this,” added the left-arm pacer.

Holdsworth further elaborated that international cricket will be the first priority even as many Ireland players, including Little, get global T20 league deals.

“Franchise cricket opportunities have become an increasing feature of modern-day cricket, so we remain somewhat flexible in our response to offers that arise, but i’ general we will maintain an ‘Ireland-first’ policy when the potential for conflict arises.”

“Our approach also allows us to blood new players who might not otherwise get game time for Ireland. Looking ahead, it will become ever-more important for us to expand our pool of players to accommodate the increasing quantity of fixtures happening at bilateral international, ICC Event and domestic franchise levels.”

“Again, congratulations to Josh — everyone in Irish cricket wishes him well and it is indeed recognition not only for Josh, but Irish cricket itself that our players are now becoming well sought after by franchise leagues.”

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