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England stars 'want India chance'

By Matt Slater and David Ornstein

Steve Harmison
In contract but out of the England team, Harmison is an IPL target

Players' boss Sean Morris says England cricketers want to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and should be given the chance to do so.

The chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association said a solution must be found or "money will talk".

"The value of the cricketer has just increased through what is happening in the IPL," Morris told BBC Sport.

"It's perfectly natural for the PCA to want our members to take advantage of that - it's a unique opportunity."

Morris was replying to comments made earlier by Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

"We are not interested in people playing in the IPL," Clarke said, before adding that he would not change the domestic calendar to suit the Indian league.

The ECB supremo also said he was "not getting any pressure" from players eager to sign up for an IPL franchise.

IPL chairman Lalit Modi, however, told BBC Sport that England's top players are keen to feature in the lucrative Twenty20 series.

There is a very real threat from what IPL cricket could do to the England team by decimating it of its stars

PCA boss Sean Morris

And he said he would be happy to move his season forward to accommodate England's big names, who would all be attractive to IPL teams.

The billion-dollar competition, which has attracted players from every leading cricket nation apart from England, runs from 18 April to 1 June, clashing with the English season.

Any English cricketer wishing to compete in the IPL, or any other overseas league, requires ECB approval.

So far, Hampshire all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, who has played one-day and Twenty20 cricket for England, is the only Englishman to sign up for the league.

But on Thursday, New Zealand allowed five players, including skipper Daniel Vettori, to miss the start of their tour of England so they can play in the IPL.

India star VVS Laxman
India star VVS Laxman will skipper the IPL's Deccan Chargers

Modi believes England players are also keen on the IPL, and vice-versa.

"I know a lot of them are interested but we don't want to conflict with the English season," said Modi, who is also vice-president of the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India.

"If that means we have to move our matches a few weeks in advance, we would be happy to do that to accommodate the English players.

"We would like to see a lot of the English players in the IPL but I cannot commit to them until the ECB actually finds a window and clears them."

But Clarke said none of the players centrally contracted to play for England, which includes top IPL targets Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen, have shown any interest in Modi's millions.

"I don't think the rewards being talked about are ones England players would be interested in," he added.

"Should any player give up his English contract - which is not an insignificant amount of money, let alone all the extra methods of earning money that go along with that - he would, of course, risk losing his England place.

Our priority is to bring the Champions Twenty20 in next and then look at a second season for the IPL

IPL chairman Lalit Modi

"We play international cricket during the time the IPL is on and most players don't want to lose their international place."

Pietersen recently admitted he had been approached by the IPL and Flintoff is rumoured to have been offered a multi-million dollar deal - but both rejected the IPL's advances, saying they wanted to concentrate on their England careers.

But with the likes of Australia's Andrew Symonds, Mahendra Dhoni of India and South Africa's Jacques Kallis all set to earn unprecedented amounts of money for non-Test cricket, the lure is obvious.

PCA chief Morris said he would not be surprised to see Flintoff and Pietersen in IPL action next season.

"Their priority is England, they've all said that," he added.

Kevin Pietersen
Tempting Kevin Pietersen to join would be a major coup for the IPL

"But I just hope we can come to a point where they're comfortable with their arrangement with the ECB as their employers and take advantage of the increase in income into the game, because you're a long time retired.

"Restricting employees anywhere will cause friction in a relationship - over a period of time that will break it down."

Morris said he was in "constant communication" with the ECB to find a "proactive solution with some flexibility" but he favoured developing an English alternative that would compensate the leading players for missing out on the riches on offer in the sub-continent.

"There is a very real threat here, and it's not from the ECB," he added.

"It's from what IPL cricket could do to the England team by decimating it of its stars, and quite rightly the ECB are looking to protect our domestic game.

"I would like to see a far bigger carrot employed here in the UK where our players can take advantage of the interest and excitement that Twenty20 has created - a strong domestic event that we could potentially export to India.

"We have a unique advantage. In June and July we are the only Test-playing nation playing cricket.

"You've got the world's best players sitting on their hands. They could be brought here to perform in a similar sort of event."

Hampshire are taking a serious risk that Mascarenhas might get injured while playing in the IPL and be out for the whole English summer

ECB chairman Giles Clarke

Such a development would be a shot across the bows of Modi's IPL.

In regard to his league's future direction, Modi said the first hurdle was to consolidate the competition's place in the calendar and denied that plans for a second season within the same 12-month period, at the end of the summer, were close to fruition.

"We may look at a second season years from now but I don't see a second season in the next three or four years at least," he said.

"We may look at a shorter window some time in September when we are free and there is no international cricket.

"We are looking at that but we have to keep in mind that we have the Champions Twenty20 around that time, so we have to carve out windows for everything.

"Our priority is to bring the Champions Twenty20 in next and then look at a second season for the IPL in the future."

In a later interview with the BBC he emphasised: "The IPL is here for at least 10 years because we have a 10-year TV deal and the franchises own the teams for 10 years."

Modi also said England paceman Steve Harmison, who has a central contract but is currently out of favour, would be a welcome addition to the start-up league.

606: DEBATE
womblefromthelane

"Absolutely - there is no reason why we wouldn't consider him?" said Modi when asked about Harmison.

A window in the international calendar to allow English players to take part in the IPL has been mooted, but Clarke's comments on the non-negotiable status of the English domestic season will not go down well in India.

The ECB may have sanctioned Mascarenhas's Indian adventure but it seems a line in the sand has been drawn for centrally-contracted players.

"Hampshire chose to release Dimitri Mascarenhas, it was entirely their decision," said Clarke.

"As far as the ECB was concerned it was entirely a matter for his employer.

"Hampshire are taking a serious risk, which they acknowledge, that Mascarenhas might get injured while playing in the IPL and be out for the whole English summer."

It is a risk Clarke is unwilling to contemplate for the likes of Flintoff and Pietersen.


see also
New Zealand reach IPL compromise
27 Mar 08 |  International Teams
Twenty20 causes confusion
14 Mar 08 |  Cricket
Mascarenhas joins Indian league
11 Mar 08 |  Cricket
Cricket's new order
29 Feb 08 |  Cricket
Pietersen rebuffs Indian offers
29 Feb 08 |  England
Will India's cricket league work?
27 Feb 08 |  South Asia
Aussie stars join Indian League
31 Oct 07 |  International Teams


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