Aussies set to join IPL after national duty
Five top Australian players are set to spice up the Indian Premier League in South Africa after finishing their national duty with controversial all-rounder Andrew Symonds expected to play his first match for Deccan Chargers on Saturday.
Cricket Australia has given the green signal to the players for the IPL second season and Symonds is expected to play against Kings XI Punjab at Kimberley on Saturday.
Symonds' four team-mates, Brett Lee and James Hopes (Kings XI Punjab), Nathan Bracken (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and David Hussey (Kolkata Knight Riders) are also flying down to South Africa after Australia's Twenty20 match against Pakistan in Dubai on Friday.
Australian team physiotherapist, Alex Kountouris, said he was not aware of any players carrying injuries that would prevent them from playing the final fortnight of the IPL.
"At this stage, I understand they're all okay. I don't know of anyone of IPL contracted players who is not planning to go," Kountouris was quoted as saying by a website.
Symonds' agent Matt Fearon said the all-rounder, bought for USD 1.35 million, is itching to play in South Africa.
"He has obviously missed a lot of cricket and he's keen to get out there and play as much as he can. He has loved being back around and performing with the Australian team, and he is looking forward to getting over to South Africa to join the boys at Deccan," Fearon said.
Symonds' powerful presence will add to the Deccan middle-order while the addition of Lee and Hopes should significantly boost Punjab's chances of qualifying for the semifinals.
Hussey could be called upon to fill Knight Riders' overseas batting place previously occupied by Chris Gayle, and Bracken's deft changes of pace could prove of assistance to Bangalore as South Africa's tired pitches continue to wear.
Meanwhile, Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said he was not against the five players featuring in the IPL and rather feels that it would help a player like Lee, who is short of match practice after a recent ankle surgery.
"As far as I know, Brett will be heading to the IPL to get some more cricket in. He is keen to get in some more overs before the World Twenty20 and the Ashes. We aren't standing anyone down from the IPL after the Pakistan series," he said.
In case of Shaun Tait, bought by Rajasthan Royals, Kountouris was doubtful he would be ready to play in the next few weeks.
"It is still very early in his rehab. He has only had three bowls in four months ... my feeling is that he is still a little bit away from where he needs to be," Kountouris said of Tait who is recovering from hamstring tendonitis.