Pakistan decision leaves small gap in the calendar March 11, 2008

Australians no certainty for IPL - Sutherland

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and their team-mates no longer have commitments in Pakistan, but they still have a West Indies tour to prepare for in May © Getty Images

Australia's players will not necessarily be free to play in the Indian Premier League despite the postponement of their tour to Pakistan. The series would have clashed with the IPL, but Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland said they still had the tour of the West Indies to consider.

"The Indian Premier League is due to commence on April 18," Sutherland said. "The Australian team is due to arrive in the West Indies for a tour in early May. So there is a small window of opportunity there for players to perhaps play in IPL.

"But at the same time we've now got this calendar issue, where players won't have had much preparation leading into the West Indies tour. So our coaching staff and team management are now considering what the appropriate lead-in is going to be for the team."

Australia's first tour match in the Caribbean is scheduled to start on May 16, which would seem to give the players time for a short IPL hit-out before flying to the West Indies. The first Test begins in Jamaica on May 22.

That means the IPL-signed Test players Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Michael Hussey need to be in the Caribbean from early May. One-day specialists like Nathan Bracken, however, might have the chance for a longer IPL spell with the limited-overs contests in the West Indies starting in mid-June.

"Playing a Twenty20 league in India would be better preparation than a staid conditioning camp, I think," the Bangalore franchise chief executive Charu Sharma told Times of India. "But it's CA's prerogative. We are hopeful of Bracken turning up.

"This unwillingness on CA's part to not readily commit to IPL is just an attempt to downplay the importance of the league. They want to be seen as a board which is not too keen on paying special attention to IPL. They also don't want to appear greedy, maybe."

IS Bindra, a member of the IPL's governing council, however, said that it would be the Australian players' loss if they didn't play. "Sutherland's comments are an internal matter, but they have to weigh whether they will reasonably benefit by refusing to send their players," Bindra said. "If they come, fine. Otherwise, IPL won't miss them. The Aussies will simply miss out."

But Sutherland said it was too soon to confirm any involvement of Australia's cricketers in the IPL. "With this decision being made today we need to do a little bit more work," he said, "just to work out exactly what the best preparation for the West Indies tour is going to be."