England news January 17, 2009

Cash versus country for England's players

Cricinfo staff

Will a scorned Pietersen be lured by the IPL's millions? © Getty Images

The cash-versus-country debate is rearing its head following the news yesterday that Lalit Modi, the head of the Indian Premier League, wants England's players to make themselves available for four weeks each year, increasing the likelihood that some members will have to decide between national pride and life-changing sums of money.

The ECB held talks with Modi during England's tour of India late last year, and it was thought that the two parties had agreed on England's players appearing in the IPL for just 15 days. Now, however, Modi's demands - as reported in the Daily Telegraph - could force players to choose between representing England in the series against West Indies next May or hot-foot it to India to earn their millions.

The difficulty ECB faces is ensuring they protect both their investments: firstly Test cricket, which remains a big-earner for the board and the grounds in England, and secondly players' wishes to make serious amounts of money.

"This development is a serious concern," Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, told the Telegraph. "We are working through this with the ECB but clearly it is a concern to India and has a potential impact on English cricket. If we are the only country to have players not appearing in the IPL then that would not be a good prospect."

The IPL is due to span six weeks, beginning provisionally on April 10 with the final on May 29, and if the ECB allows its players to play in India then they will miss the first Test against West Indies at Lord's on May 6.

Kevin Pietersen, the recently axed England captain, is just one high-profile name to have expressed interest in playing in the IPL. Although he reaffirmed his keeness to play for England and score a mountain of runs, Modi and his millions could yet lure him and other players.