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Michael Clarke opts out of Big Bash League

cricket Updated: Jul 22, 2011 13:13 IST

PTI
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Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke on Friday opted out of the inaugural season of Twenty20 Big Bash League (BBL) to focus on a tough season ahead, which includes series against India at home.

"With the greatest respect to everybody involved in the T20 Big Bash League, I will not be committing for this year," Clarke said in a statement.

"My goal is to play Twenty20 cricket domestically, for sure. But at the moment, I want to prioritise my time and commitment to my role with the Australian team.

"We have a big six months ahead, and my commitment and focus is with those teams. I am also only available for one BBL game this year, and that was a consideration as well," the captain added.

Clarke's decision comes after the negotiations between him, his management and the Sydney Sixers failed to reach a workable compromise on the batsman's desire for rest and preparation in between Test series and Cricket Australia's desire to have as many contracted players as possible taking part in the BBL.

Clarke's absence from the launch of the first edition of the league in Sydney next week will be notable, but the latest instance of his degenerative back problems, during a practice fixture has provided a harsh reminder that physical management must be a priority for the national captain.

Australia will battle it out against New Zealand at home before hosting India in December this year apart from visiting South Africa in October.

The team is also scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in August for a three match Test series besides playing five one-dayers and two Twenty20 internationals.

The decision also means that both he and Mitchell Johnson will sit out the competition.

Johnson had earlier turned down an offer from Perth Scorchers sating that it would do him little good to try to squeeze Twenty20 appearances in between home Test series against New Zealand and India.

The BBL project owner and CA's head of marketing, Mike McKena, said he could see why Clarke's decision had been made.

"We understand and respect his decision - and while we will miss him, the T20 BBL already offers fans a galaxy of international and national stars which will help galvanise fan excitement in year one," McKenna said.