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Thursday, February 28, 2008

England stars 'eye Indian league' !!

The head of the Indian Premier League says some of England's leading players have approached him to take part in the multi-million pound competition.

IPL chairman Lalit Modi said he opted against signing English players because of international commitments, but did not rule out their future involvement."Most of the English players say they'd like to play," Modi told BBC Sport.

But an England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman said centrally contracted players were out of bounds to the IPL.The ECB said that England's commitments to the International Cricket Council's Future Tours Programme, which ends in 2012, would mean that the 12 players signed to central contracts would be unavailable to the IPL.

The massive wages on offer in India will be difficult for England's stars to ignore with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) already earning over £800m selling TV rights and team franchises for the IPL.

Over 70 of the world's best cricketers will be in India for the start of the inaugural tournament, which begins on 18 April.Last week's player auction in Mumbai raised a staggering $42m (£21.2m) as eight city franchises fought to recruit the likes of India one-day captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

Dhoni, who attracted the highest bid at the auction, will earn $1.5m (£770,095) in wages, while Symonds will pocket $1.35m (£681,861) for his role in the seven-week competition.

And Modi, vice-chairman of the BCCI as well as chairman of the IPL, said England's best players are keen to get involved."We have a huge amount of pressure from the English players to be participating in it," he said.

"It's not that we couldn't sign them (but) because it directly conflicts with the English games."Sooner or later we will look at adjusting our programmes while we try to bring our league forward."The objective would be in the future we would be working with the ECB to ensure the overlap doesn't take place."

However, Modi believes county cricket - traditionally the leading wage earner for overseas Test players - will be left trailing the IPL as the world's best players choose to play in India rather than England.

"They have decided to sign with us over and above the counties," said the 42-year-old."The counties are going to deprived of these players going forward."Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes agrees that county cricket faces a huge threat from the IPL."I think it's inevitable the way things are going that we'll lose some of our top players," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I don't think we can compete, certainly not financially. A county player might be offered £60,000 to £70,000 a year to play for his county and if he's offered a quarter of a million to play half the cricket abroad... I'd ask the question of anybody: where would you go?

"It's also going to have a big influence on overseas players. They're not going to be available to us for two or three months at the start of the English season so is it going to be worth signing them?"

The creation of the league has already caused conflict between Nottinghamshire and their overseas player David Hussey.Despite penning a new two-year contract at Trent Bridge in October last year, the Australian has also been signed by Kolkata for $625,000 (£315,579).

If he does play in India, Hussey is expected to miss Nottinghamshire's first five championship matches and all eight Friends Provident one-day games."We were expecting him to come to us in the middle of April," Notts director of cricket Mick Newell told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We all want to work towards a compromise. David is keen to play in the IPL, the sums people are talking about are mind-blowing for cricket, so I'm sure both sides are keen to find a solution."

However, Modi insists the IPL only needs a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Cricket Australia, not via Nottinghamshire, for Hussey's authorisation to play.He said: "David Hussey has nothing to do with Nottinghamshire, as far as we are concerned he only needs an NOC from his home board."

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