Saturday, February 16, 2008

IPL faces another Australian stumbling block

The number of Australians who will be involved in the IPL is still in doubt...

A quirky Cricket Australia regulation has provided a last-minute hitch in negotiations to allow its contract holders to take part in the Indian Premier League. Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, has set a Sunday deadline for registration for Thursday's player auction, but that is in doubt due to a condition that prevents more than two Australians appearing in the same overseas team.
Sixteen Australians have expressed interest in joining the Twenty20 competition starting in April, but Cricket Australia wants to wait until after the draft before releasing any of them to satisfy its limit. The move extends the uncertainty over how many of the country's players will be involved in the IPL.
Modi has previously said anyone who didn't sign by Sunday would have to wait three years for another chance to join, but Cricket Australia believes the BCCI understands its situation. However, the news has not been as well received by some of the eight franchises who are preparing bids to develop their squads.
"The long-standing regulation, which was around back when Cricket Australia was the Australian Cricket Board, means we won't give clearance to more than two players in an overseas domestic team," Peter Young, Cricket Australia's general manager of corporate affairs, told Cricinfo. "We don't want something that could be seen as a de-facto Australian team.
"It's a condition that has been around for years in county cricket and has been well understood. As long as it is understood by everyone it will be fine."
Until now there has not been significant interest in groups of players appearing in countries other than England, and a board meeting would be required to change the regulation. Cricket Australia has no intention of relaxing the rule, which would prevent one of the franchises stacking its team with Australians.
The development came as Indian board officials were confident of solving the outstanding issues. Cricket Australia and IPL representatives in India and London have been trying to resolve the contract concerns throughout the week and the main problem centres around protecting its sponsors.
Another roadblock to the current players being involved is whether the March tour of Pakistan goes ahead. The country will hold an election on Monday and Young expects some "clarity" on the situation over the next week. The timing of the trip to the West Indies, which starts early in May, also means the squad members will only be able to participate in the first half of the IPL.