IPL second fiddle to Pro20

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South Africa’s star players will have to put loyalty to their franchises ahead of big money at the Indian Premier League this month.

The start of the Indian Twenty20 competition on April 18 clashes with the semifinals and final of the Standard Bank Pro20.

Although the final Test ends just three days before the start of the league, SA’s Test players will have to fly home if their franchise is involved in the local knockout phase.

Chief executive Gerald Majola said Cricket SA’s contracts with their players specified they had to be available for their franchises when not required by the national side. “We gave them permission to sign for IPL but only on condition that their franchises had priority,” he said.

Four players from the Cape Cobras — Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Ashwell Prince — have signed for Indian teams and chief executive Andre Odendaal expects them to play if the Cobras reach the semifinals.

“We’ll need them,” said Odendaal. “There are high stakes. If we reach the Pro20 final we qualify for the international champions league, where the prize money is beyond anything we have played for before.”

The top two SA teams will play in the champions league, provisionally scheduled for Dubai in October, where the minimum prize money will be 250000 (about R1.94-million) and the winners will take away 2- million. First prize in the Pro20 is R500000.

Elise Lombard of the Titans said she expected Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers to be available for the semifinals if the Titans were involved. Morne Morkel has opted not to play in the Indian league this year.

The top two teams from India, SA , Australia and England will play in the champions league, raising the possibility of a second tug of loyalty for players. For instance, if Bangalore and the Cape Cobras both qualify, both teams are likely to want to use Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.

Again, SA franchises will get priority. “The only way the Indian teams could use our players would be if they negotiated with the franchises, in which case they would have to pay compensation of about 200000 per player,” said Majola.

SA commitments could have an impact on the financial rewards for the players, who are earning huge money in India, led by Jacques Kallis who will pocket 900000 for what amounts to six weeks’ work.

The incentives for franchises to qualify for the champions league are similarly compelling but Lombard said: “It’s not about the money, it’s the prestige of doing well and providing value for our sponsors and supporters.” Which is why she wants her best players on the field.
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