Source - theage.com.au
Cricket powerbroker Lalit Modi remains unfazed by the sponsorship disagreement between the Australian and Indian boards and insists the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be a success even without Australia's star players.
Modi, the chairman of the IPL and vice-president of the Indian board, has begun briefing franchise owners about some of the finer points of the inaugural multi-million dollar Twenty20 competition which is due to start on April 18.
But while Modi outlined details of the tournament's 44-day schedule and the coming player auctions, he could not tell franchisees that the impasse between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had been resolved.
CA does not want its players to endorse sponsors in the IPL which would clash with its own sponsors, given the competition is likely to be televised in Australia.
The IPL this week threatened to boycott Australian players if CA continued to play hard ball, and Modi reiterated that view and said the competition would still be a success without the likes of Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist.
"We are not waiting for anybody," Modi said.
"Australian players only represent a fraction of all the world players involved and they were not there in the first place.
"They are only a few players and we can go on without them."
The IPL found an unlikely ally when Ponting on Thursday weighed into the debate by declaring any attempt by CA to block their players "unfair" because the IPL was essentially a domestic competition.
Modi said he was confident the impasse between the boards would be resolved soon.
CA spokesman Peter Young was also hopeful the dispute could be resolved, and that Australian players would take part.
"An ideal outcome for us would be that the IPL go ahead and operate, using Australian players," he said.
Australian players cannot take part in the IPL if the tournament clashes with international commitments, such as the proposed tour of Pakistan, scheduled to begin next month.
However they will be free to play if the Pakistan tour - which remains in doubt because of security concerns - is cancelled or postponed.
Despite his pending retirement from international cricket, Gilchrist is yet to be officially cleared by CA to play in the IPL as his Australian contract does not expire until mid-year.
Modi could not confirm when the player auctions will be held, although it has been speculated they have been delayed until next month.