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Hamps chief predicts English IPL presence

Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove is not concerned by captain Dimitri Mascarenhas' lack of games since joining the Indian Premier League - and has predicted a host of England stars, including Kevin Pietersen, could join him next year.

Mascarenhas is currently the only England-qualified player in the lucrative Twenty20 tournament, where he has signed for former Hampshire skipper Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals.

But with restrictions limiting franchises to four overseas players per match he was not selected for the first three games since arriving on the sub-continent.

Warne, Shane Watson, Graeme Smith and Sohail Tanvir have been chosen instead, leaving Mascarenhas kicking his heels on the sidelines while his Hampshire team-mates get on with the domestic campaign.

But Bransgrove insists his lack of involvement is not a bone of contention.

He said: "I'm quite happy with it. We've come to an agreement with Rajasthan which is good for both clubs and which has allowed us to secure Dimi for another couple of years.

"I'm sure he is disappointed not to be playing but it's not really my business at this stage. In fact I'm perfectly happy for him to have a rest.

"I've exchanged texts with him and I know (Hampshire coach) Paul Terry has spoken with Dimi. I've texted Warney too - I joked once or twice that they can send him back if they don't want him, but if he's frustrated he has hasn't let it out."

Centrally-contracted players are prohibited from playing in the IPL this year as it clashes with England's programme, but other players like Ravi Bopara, Luke Wright and Sajid Mahmood have recently rejected overtures from India in a bid to enhance their international prospects this summer and beyond.

Bransgrove does not believe Mascarenhas has hindered his chances of being selected and expects others to follow his lead in future editions of the competition.

Asked if his Rajasthan contract would affect his role in the England one-day set-up, Bransgrove said: "I've spoken to the ECB and they say not. I can only take them at their word. They've said as long as we are happy with it, they are happy with it and I think their duty is to pick the best team.

"And I think next year they may change the dates of the IPL and a lot of the players who've said they aren't going to do it, will do it. The temptation, at the end of the day, is so great.

"Players like Wright and Bopara would be fantastic additions to any Twenty20 league - I know I'd like them."

Pietersen, who warmed up for the first Test against New Zealand with a century on a rare outing for Hampshire, has already declared an interest in the IPL if schedules allow.

Bransgrove believes that such a move is inevitable, despite moves by the ECB to compensate players with highly-paid, one-off challenge matches bankrolled by Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

"I'm almost certain (Pietersen will play in the IPL), yes," he added.

"I suspect the Stanford matches are going to try to be used by England to buy the exclusivity of England players, but I believe that they will want to - and will - participate in the IPL."

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