England could lose their best players in the future if they are not allowed to play in the Indian Premier League, says director of cricket Ashley Giles.
England players have been rested for parts of their winter tour of Sri Lanka and India but many are taking part in the IPL, which begins on 9 April.
If players reach the latter stages of the tournament they could also miss Tests against New Zealand in June.
“Right now I think our players love playing for England,” Giles said.
Speaking to the BBC’s Tuffers and Vaughan show, he added: “I don’t want that to be a kiss of death. I think we have to understand that it could be a danger in the future.
“We don’t particularly want to go toe-to-toe with our players over IPL participation in the long run because we may face losing some of our best players.”
The IPL is the richest Twenty20 league in the world with 11 England players signed by franchises this year including Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and, fitness permitting, Jofra Archer.
Player availability for the IPL has been a long-debated topic in English cricket but England’s approach has been more relaxed in recent years.
That has been credited with helping the success of their white-ball teams, including the 2019 World Cup win, but England players have never missed a Test when it has clashed with the IPL.
Giles said England players had already signed contracts with franchises agreeing to full availability for this year’s tournament before the late confirmation of the series against New Zealand came in January.
“That window was clear for anyone who got to the later stages of IPL to play in the whole competition,” Giles said.
“That is how their contracts were agreed. We don’t think it is right to renege on that agreement.”
‘We’re throwing everything at the T20 World Cup and Ashes’
England’s rotation policy has been implemented to manage players through a busy year which includes 17 Tests, many of which will requiring periods in bio-secure ‘bubbles’, but it has been criticised.
England play India again in five Tests at home this summer, two Tests against New Zealand, a T20 World Cup in the autumn, before an Ashes series in Australia in the winter.
Giles said England’s “big strategic priorities” are the World Cup and the Ashes down under.
“We are throwing everything at that,” he said.
“The way we have managed our players during this period, with wellbeing and mental health at the forefront of that, is getting a squad to the T20 World Cup and Ashes that are fit to play physically and mentally.
“With the amount of cricket we have got, living in bubbles, quarantine and being away from families, there is a genuine concern we wouldn’t do that if we weren’t pro-active with our management.
“We can’t play what will be perceived to be our best team every game because we will burn people out and lose them and we need to look after them better than that.”