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Ricky Ponting leads way to IPL riches

Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee will join Adam Gilchrist and ten other Australians in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 competition.

However, despite overtures from the organisers of the new venture, Michael Clarke will not be taking part.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and fast bowler Mitchell Johnson also opted out so they could focus on their fledgling international careers, as did veteran Jason Gillespie.

Ponting is one of seven Australians currently in action in the one-day tri-series against India and Sri Lanka to sign on, along with retiring wicketkeeper-batsman Gilchrist.

Michael Hussey, Matthew Hayden, Andrew Symonds and Nathan Bracken will also travel to the subcontinent along with former internationals Simon Katich, Cameron White and David Hussey.

Already committed to the project were the retired Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Justin Langer.

Representatives of the eight IPL franchises will bid for players at an open auction in Mumbai on Wednesday, with wages set to outstrip anything most of the players involved will have enjoyed before.

It follows Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association resolving their differences with the IPL and the Indian board.

CA said the IPL, its franchisees and player managers were all aware of the Australian board's requirements, which include stipulations over conflicting sponsors and a rule that allows only two Australian players per side.

The six-week IPL starts on April 18 with the millionaire owners of the eight franchises -- Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mohali and Mumbai -- looking to stock their squads with top overseas players.

Clarke, refusing to rule out taking part sometime in the future, said through a spokesman: "He's keen to play it over time, but with the amount of cricket he's got on the calendar, he just wants some time to spend with his family and friends," the spokesman said.

Haddin, 30, has only played 28 limited-overs internationals because of the consistent form over time of Gilchrist, whilst Johnson, 26, has played just six tests and 30 one-dayers, and is still trying to secure his place in the Australian pace attack.

"They have decided not to make themselves available for the auction for three years. The contract was to sign for three years," Sam Halvorsen, manager for both Haddin and Johnson, said.

"Mitchell has made a very promising start to his international career ... and he wants to focus on consolidating his position in the Australian team.

"Brad wants to focus on nailing down the spot if he is given the opportunity to replace Adam Gilchrist.

"Both of them have resisted lucrative offers over the past three years to focus on their objective of becoming long-term Australian players ... they don't want to burn themselves out."

Those players still involved in Australian squads will have only a limited role in the tournament given their national commitments, which includes the proposed tours of Pakistan and the West Indies.

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