IPL to target top England cricketers
England's leading players can expect approaches from big-spending Indian Premier League franchises following the announcement that next year's tour to the West Indies will not clash with the competition's second season.
Players such as Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and even Test captain Michael Vaughan, who has played only two Twenty20 matches, are contenders for lucrative contracts to play in the second IPL.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Tuesday that next year's tour to the West Indies will conclude on April 4, six days before the IPL season starts.
That allows England players, if they get the ECB's go-ahead, to make up for missing out on this year's inaugural IPL, although if next summer's Zimbabwe Test series goes ahead then their time in India will be brief.
"Absolutely we will be looking at England players," confirmed Vijay Mallya, owner of the Bangalore Royal Challengers. "Some swapping around will have to be done but we will be looking at English players and I have set my team management working on the composition of the squad for next year." A factor in the England players' favour is that the restrictive salary cap placed on the franchises is almost certain to be lifted. The eight teams were allowed only $5 million (£2.5 million) to spend on players and most splurged that amount in the player auction that launched the IPL.
But it has turned out that the teams who played the biggest shots in the auction room have not necessarily offered the best value for money with the Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers - two of the bigger spenders - failing to qualify for the finals weekend.
Mallya, the entrepreneur behind the Kingfisher conglomerate, paid $111.6 million (£56.3 million) for his franchise and has seen it perform as sluggishly as Force India, his Formula One team. Mallya has fired the team's chief executive and also publicly criticised captain Rahul Dravid, who led his side to another defeat in their final match last night.
The England players will find that the contracts offered for next year's tournament will be incentive based. Gone are the plump three-year deals that locked teams into underperforming players.
"It is not just about signing big names, we want the right combination for the squad," said Mallya.