The Indian Premier League seemed headed for a stupendous debut. Its telecast rights breached the $1 billion barrier, the who’s who of the Indian corporate world and film industry lined up and shelled out millions of dollars more to acquire franchises, resulting in tremendous hype for the newest kid on the cricketing block.
<b1>All in all, the stage seemed perfectly set for the drama to unfold... except that the lead actors from as many as four countries, including the likes of Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle and Daniel Vettori will miss the show. Reason: Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and England will be busy fulfilling their international commitments during the period in which the IPL will be played (44 days from April 17 onwards).
“We can’t make these players available as they will be on national duty,” said BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah. The BCCI had, however, said these players were on their list and had committed to the IPL, implying that they would be available for the auction, which was originally slated for February 8, but is now expected to be held between the February 15 and February 18 after a meeting with franchise owners on the February 8.
Now that these players aren’t available, wouldn’t the tournament lose some sheen? “We can’t help it…the players picked up for the national squad cannot be available,” he reiterated.
The first edition of the IPL will, therefore, have to do with either retired players from these countries (like the rival ICL did) or ones not considered for national duty. There could again be a problem with inducting recently retired players like Gilchrist, because the IPL had set a two-year ‘cooling off’ period post retirement for a player to become eligible for the league. This was done to stop players from retiring early to get lucrative IPL contracts. “There is nothing finalised on this count as yet,” said BCCI joint secretary MP Pandove.