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July 26, 2007
Stephen Fleming has been asked to captain a team in the breakaway Indian Cricket League and could give up his international career to do so, according to a report in the Australian. The paper also said the recently-retired Australian stars Justin Langer and Damien Martyn had rejected offers to play in the Twenty20 tournament.
The report said Fleming was considering his position. If he agreed to join Brian Lara - and possibly Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath - in the rebel league Fleming would almost certainly need to retire from international cricket. He quit the New Zealand ODI captaincy after the World Cup but is due to lead the Test team on their tour of South Africa in November, which would clash with the ICL schedule.
The news that Fleming had been approached was at odds with the comments of the ICL's Dean Jones, who said in the Age the league was not intending to lure players away from national duties. "We are not there to ask guys to break contracts with their countries, we're not doing that," Jones said. "We are targeting countries that are not playing at that time."
Jones confirmed that Martyn had declined an offer from the ICL but said the group had had few knock-backs. Martyn's manager, Colin Young, told the Australian that Martyn thought the concept was a good one but "it wasn't for him". Langer's state commitments at Western Australia would not allow him to join the league and Cricket Australia said no player with a state or national contract would be allowed to play matches that were not sanctioned by the ICC.
Fleming's team-mate Shane Bond is also said to have been approached, along with the recently-retired Sri Lanka batsman Russel Arnold and the former Australia allrounder Ian Harvey. Jones said the ICL was also hoping to attract younger cricketers with potential who were struggling to find a place in first-class teams around the world, and who would benefit from spending time with the likes of Lara.
"Potentially what we're about is trying to find young Indian kids to represent India, as well as potential young players from Kenya and Zimbabwe and maybe some under-19s boys from Australia," Jones said. "They're better off playing in this sort of league than playing club cricket for a month."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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