Franchises confident despite missing stars
Two weeks before the start of the IPL all the franchises are faced with a growing list of big-name absentees for various parts of the tournament through international commitments. However, they don't appear to be losing any sleep, confident that they can manage to juggle personnel yet retain their core strength.
Members of the Australian Test team will not be available from May 1 onwards because of a pre-tour conditioning camp before the West Indies trip later in the month; the South African players might not be available for the first week of IPL because of the Standard Bank Pro20 matches in South Africa; and the New Zealand players will leave in early May for their tour of England.
These movements stand to affect the Chennai Super Kings the worst, as they have foreign players from all three groups: while Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, and Jacob Oram will be there in the initial stages, Albie Morkel and Makhaya Ntini will be missing. And by the time Morkel and Ntini join them, Hayden, Hussey, and Oram will have started packing their bags. VB Chandrasekhar, their head of operations, though, looked at the positives: "We get Hayden and Hussey for the starting games, which will be crucial," he told Cricinfo. "The brighter side is we won't have to make the tough decision on who to bench."
It will help them immensely that Stephen Fleming has retired from Test cricket, otherwise they would have fallen short of four foreign players. Fleming and Muttiah Muralitharan will be the only one available to them throughout the tournament.
Another badly-affected team will be Deccan Chargers, whose most expensive player Andrew Symonds will be available to them only for the first 10 days. But they, too, have positives to look at. J Krishnan, their CEO, said that it was a bonus that Symonds was available in the first place. "When we bid for him, we knew that he might not play at all, given the Pakistan tour. It's a bonus that tour got cancelled, and that he will be available for whatever length of the tournament." The other player they could miss is Herschelle Gibbs, but Krishnan said the IPL committee was working with the South African board and there could be an arrangement under which certain players might be released for the IPL.
An arrangement with the South African board is something the Bangalore Royal Challengers are hoping for too. They stand to lose Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn if they have to go and play their domestic tournament, which ends on April 25. "Even if it doesn't work out, it is a minor setback given the duration of their absence, but a major one if you look at the players that be missing," said Charu Sharma, their CEO. "But I guess we will make do."
Rajasthan Royals, who have Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel in their side, are also confident something will be worked out. "We are quietly confident that we won't lose any player at any time of the tournament," said Fraser Castelino, their CEO.
The other big names who will be missing significant portions of the IPL are: AB de Villers, Daniel Vettori (Delhi Daredevils), Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum (Kolkata Knight Riders), and Brett Lee (Kings XI Punjab).
Prospective missing stars
Bangalore Royal Challengers
Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, and Dale Steyn: Till April 25
Ross Taylor: May 1 onwards
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, if he chooses to play the Australia Tests: from around mid-May
Chennai Super Kings
Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey and Jacob Oram: May 1 onwards
Albie Morkel and Makhaya Ntini: till April 25
AB de Villiers: till April 25
Daniel Vettori: May 1 onwards
Andrew Symonds: May 1 onwards
Herschelle Gibbs: till April 25
Shaun Pollock, Loots Bosman, and Ashwell Prince: till April 25
Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel: till April 25
Kolkata Knight Riders
Ricky Ponting and Brendon McCullum: May 1 onwards
Chris Gayle, if he chooses to play the Australia Tests: from around mid-May
Kings XI Punjab
Brett Lee and Kyle Mills: May 1 onwards
Ramnaresh Sarwan, if he chooses to play the Australia Tests: from around mid-May