Australia set to fit in with IPL
Test and one-day cricket is set to take a back seat on the international calendar for the Indian Premier League, with revelations that Australia is willing to renegotiate tours already scheduled to fit around the tournament.
While Cricket Australia remains embroiled in a dispute with IPL's lawyers over players' contractual obligations, yesterday it gave its strongest indication yet that it would bow to Indian pressure. Chief executive James Sutherland revealed he was open to the idea of shifting matches on the International Cricket Council's future tours program, which has been outlined until 2012.
The Federation of International Cricketers' Association has also pushed for an annual window to allow international stars to compete in the Twenty20 competition.
Australia's players are keen to play in the IPL but have been blocked from signing contracts because Cricket Australia is worried it would promote rivals to its sponsors Foster's and Travelex, which have negotiated deals with global protection from such events.
Sutherland's move on the future tours program indicates that Cricket Australia envisions its players taking part in the IPL over coming years, although Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young would not rule out penalties for players who sign contracts without permission.
"We are still of the view that (the contract disagreement) is capable of resolution. It's going to be tough but we believe we can get through," Young said.
IPL chairman Lalit Modi has stuck firm to his deadline of Sunday for all contracts to be signed and returned. He said players not on the list would be unable to play in the tournament for three years.
"It's not India imposing its will, it is Australia doing that," Modi said. "They are the only country that has asked for global protection of sponsors; every other country is fine with the conditions and understands them. No other country is asking for this.
"They are depriving their own players."
Next week in Kuala Lumpur, chief executives of the national cricket boards will begin discussing future tour arrangements, and no doubt there will be a strong push by Australia and subcontinent nations to create an annual gap for the IPL.
Players are set to earn triple their annual salaries for just six weeks of play.
While the Australian IPL-contracted players will be auctioned off on February 20 among the eight IPL franchises, subject to Cricket Australia approval, assessing their value will be difficult if the future tours program remains unchanged.
In New Delhi, retired Indian great Kapil Dev has taken the Indian cricket board to court for alleged victimisation after he headed the rebel Indian Cricket League.
Dev applied to the Delhi High Court after the Indian board stopped his pension as a former international player and sacked him as head of the National Cricket Academy.
The ICL's inaugural Twenty20 tournament, featuring retired stars like West Indian Brian Lara and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul Haq, was held late last year.
The Indian board refused to recognise the ICL and banned Indian players involved in it.