Mumbai Indians mentor Anil Kumble talks to Ricky Ponting as Sachin Tendulkar looks on during a practice session in Bengaluru ahead of the IPL matches. PTI Photo
This year's Indian Premier League (IPL) won't feature cricketers from New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for a major part of the tournament. But should the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) be worried?
The biggest percentage of foreigners in the IPL is outsourced from South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka. And these countries have made themselves available for the entire duration of the IPL.
Barring Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, no other English Test player has entered in a contract with an IPL team.
Bangladesh have just two faces --- Tamim Iqbal (PWI) and Shakib Al Hasan (KKR) while New Zealand account for just five players --- Jesse Ryder (DD), Brendon McCullum (KKR), Ross Taylor (PWI), Daniel Vettori (RCB) and Nathan McCullum (Sunrisers).
FTP not foolproof
Though small in number, there are quite a few significant players missing out. Like the case of Brendon and Shakib, a part of the KKR core setup.
Asked about their absence, coach Trevor Bayliss said it was something beyond his control. "But at the same time we have enough international players who can come good."
Which leaves the question, why not them when the rest are available?
The International Cricket Council (ICC) isn't willing to grant a separate window to the IPL in their Future Tours Programmes (FTP), fearful of setting a precedent for other such leagues.
The first FTP came into being in 2010, charting out a 10-year home and away programme involving all Test nations.
But by allowing two participating nations to decide on the fate of the tour, the ICC has basically rendered the FTP useless.
Like in the case of the cricket boards of Sri Lanka and West Indies, who decided last year to call off Sri Lanka's two Tests in the Caribbean so that their players could be freed to play in this year's IPL.
Earlier this year, the ICC chief executive, Dave Richardson, admitted that the ICC had a limited role in asking any two member countries to implement the FTP to the letter.
But at the same time, the FTP has also been kind on countries like South Africa, who till this year haven't had a single tour clashing with the IPL.
India, of course, have been the biggest benefactors of the FTP. Pakistan and England are the odd ones out.
Pakistan fell out due to diplomatic reasons after the first IPL while most England cricketers are ready to sacrifice the riches for Test glory.
This year too, England have gone ahead with their FTP commitments against New Zealand while counties like Nottinghamshire have barred their cricketers from playing in the IPL.
Such is the lure of the IPL that Nottingham's decision had prompted their star player Michael Lumb to consider going freelance.
It has raised a disparate situation, where some players have been prevented from earning a few quick bucks, which no one but the ICC can correct.
The IPL however will continue to roll irrespective of what they might or could do.