Countries win out over cash?
Michael Hussey and Albie Morkel, who represented Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, will turn out for Western Australia and the Titans in the Champions League, scheduled to be held in September this year, according to an agreement reached among the national boards before the IPL was formalised.
It is learnt that the English and Australian boards secured a commitment from the BCCI that the internationals players participating in the IPL would play for domestic teams of their home countries in the event of a clash of interests in the Champions League. The agreement was verbal, though, and it is understood the contracts signed by the international players have no clause pertaining to the Champions League. The ECB, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa were among those who had endorsed the IPL before its inception.
However, the situation remains unclear since James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, has said that it's likely that IPL teams will get to retain the services of foreign players. This means that Hussey could yet turn out against his state side.
"It [whether players need to play for their IPL side or their state side] is something we need to work out as we determine the regulations, but there is probably a high likelihood that where an IPL team wants those players they will be cleared to play for those IPL teams," Sutherland said in Melbourne. "We need to work out what the terms or conditions are on that release [regarding conflicts of loyalty]."
But Hussey could miss out on the tournament since Sutherland said it was unlikely that players in Australia's Test squad will take part in the inaugural edition of the tournament, since it will precede their tour to India.
Though the itinerary is yet to be decided, it is expected to take place immediately after the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, which be held between September 11-28. "I think leading into the Test series which starts in the first week of October, I think it is unlikely any of our Test players are able to play," he said.
Western Australia and Victoria from Australia, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings from the IPL along with the Dolphins and Titans from the Pro20 in South Africa have already qualified for the Champions League, and will be joined by the two finalists from the English Twenty20 Cup, which starts next week.
Hussey, who played in four matches for Chennai in the IPL before returning home to prepare for Australia's tour of the West Indies, scored 168 runs at a strike-rate of 168, including a 54-ball 116 in their opening game. However, he didn't play in a single KFC Twenty20 match for Western Australia, who lost to Victoria by 32 runs in the final.
Western Australia will also have the services of Shaun Marsh, one of heroes of the IPL, and Luke Pomersbach, both of whom appeared for the Kings XI Punjab. Tom Moody, the Western Australia coach, was also part of Punjab's set-up. Another player who will be available is Luke Ronchi, the Mumbai Indians' wicketkeeper-batsman who was recently called up to Australia's squad in the West Indies.
Victoria, the other Australian team to have qualified, will be up against Shane Warne, the local legend who inspired the victory march of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. Victoria's victorious squad included three IPL players: David Hussey and Brad Hodge from the Kolkata Knight Riders, and captain Cameron White, who had a disastrous run with the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Greg Shipperd, their coach, had been in-charge of the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL.
Morkel, who played in 13 IPL games for Chennai with moderate success, was part of the core team of the Titans who won the Standard Bank Pro20, and scored a vital 17-ball 33 in the final against the Dolphins. The Titans will have in their ranks two more IPL players in AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn.
There could still be more potential clashes depending on which English teams qualify for the event, as aside from their one permitted overseas player, some counties field as many as six Kolpak players, mainly from South Africa.