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BCCI unfazed over missing stars

The likes of Ricky Ponting or Matthew Hayden attracted much lesser fees in the IPL than some of the younger players because of their "limited availability," according to a senior Indian cricket board official.

As the final countdown begins for the megabucks league, set for an April 18 launch, the home truths are that the Australians and New Zealanders will only make a two-week appearance in the 44-day extravaganza.

"We had known about it and the franchise holders had also taken cognizance of it. Hence, somebody like the Australian captain Ricky Ponting has got much less than some of the Indians whose availability is ensured," Rajiv Shukla, a vice-president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and a member of the IPL's organising committee, told Gulf News.

While there are at least two big Australian names among the highest paid stars Andrew Symonds ($1.35 million) and Brett Lee ($900,000), the franchise holders would save huge sums of money on them by paying according to the number of matches played.

Symonds and his Test colleagues - Ponting, Hayden, Michael Hussey, Simon Katich and Brett Lee - will have to fly back home by May 1 for a training camp ahead of the West Indies tour. This makes them available for only four of their respective teams' 14 league matches each - hitting their fees badly.

Five New Zealanders - captain Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Ross Taylor and Kyle Mills - are lucky that they are playing even four matches.

New Zealand Cricket has allowed the five to miss their team's opening two first-class matches of their upcoming tour to England so they could take part in the IPL until May 1.

Add to that is the case of some of the top West Indies players: skipper Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who will miss the last week of the League because of their upcoming series against Australia.

Asked if it would not certainly rob the high-profile event of a lot of its sheen, Shukla said: "It's unavoidable until such time the International Cricket Council (ICC) does not open a window for the IPL. All the team owners had hence signed up a bank of players during the second auction."

The BCCI also does not foresee any "compensation claims" from Sony and World Sports Group, who had pitched in with a whopping $1 billion to win over the telecast rights for 10 years.

"We did not entertain any such clauses for compensation in the tenders over the non-participation of any particular player," he added.

While the Indian board seems to have covered all the angles quite well, such large scale absenteeism is certainly going to rob the League of much of its glamour.

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