Nielsen gives blessing for IPL release
Australian coach Tim Nielsen has given his cautious approval for Test players to be released for a handful of games in the Indian Premier League before the West Indies tour.
Nielsen will discuss the ideal preparation for the West Indies series with captain Ricky Ponting, Cricket Australia operations manager Michael Brown and fitness staff in Sydney next week.
Ponting is one of five leading Test players who could go to India and collect a portion of the grand fees for which they were auctioned after this week's decision to abandon the tour of Pakistan, although they are yet to receive permission from Cricket Australia.
Nielsen has not decided when he will require his players to gather before the Test squad flies to the Caribbean on May 8, but said he was not opposed to them undertaking a stint in the lucrative Twenty20 tournament, starting on April 18.
Nielsen even suggested the competitive environment amongst some of the world's finest players could be beneficial.
"As long as it fits in and Cricket Australia is comfortable with it, I don't have any problem," Nielsen told The Age. "It is nice that they can play some competitive cricket. I always encourage guys to be playing county cricket when it fits in because it is nice to be playing competitive, organised cricket.
"It is probably the best preparation they can get to put their bodies through those sorts of workloads.
The Hyderabad franchise is banking on the availability of Andrew Symonds, who said he did not want to tour Pakistan on the same day he fetched $1.47 million at the IPL auction, for the tournament's opening stages. "That is the basis on which everything has progressed," said Hyderabad co-owner N. Krishnan. "Whatever period he is available based on his prior commitments, that is wonderful."
Symonds, Australia's most expensive IPL player, could earn roughly $210,000 even if he plays only two games, and more if he stays longer, but anyone who chooses to share in the riches of what is essentially a domestic tournament will put themselves under enormous pressure to arrive in good condition for any national commitments that precede the West Indies.
Nielsen played down the possibility of a short one-day series before the tour, given the Tests would be played first. A training camp, which could run for a week, seems more likely.
International Cricket Council members again are expected to discuss Twenty20 and the merits of a window in the calendar for the IPL at next week's board meeting in Dubai, with the new tournament causing headaches for national boards.
New Zealand, which has been decimated by an exodus to the rebel Indian Cricket League, is considering whether its five IPL players should be allowed to arrive later than their teammates for this winter's tour of England.
The West Indies Cricket Board is worried its senior players will follow the money in India at the expense of their region, which is languishing with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at the bottom of the pile.
"Already it is clear that three of our players (Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul) will have to choose between representing teams in the IPL or representing their region," said WICB president Julian Hunte. "Given the amount of money at stake, it already seems a foregone conclusion."