Flintoff disappointed at IPL switch

Popular man: Andrew Flintoff signs autographs while England field Getty Images

News about the IPL shifting from India this year due to its clash with the country's general elections has evoked mixed reactions from the players and officials involved. Andrew Flintoff, who was bought by the Chennai Super Kings for US$1.5 million in the second auction, expressed disappointment at not being able to play the tournament in India. Flintoff said one of the big attractions of the IPL for him was the chance to play in India.

"I love playing cricket in India, particularly one-day cricket," I've never played a Twenty20 match over there but I can imagine it will be an unbelievable experience because as a player you don't get a chance very often to play in front of big crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 people. It's unfortunate but if we don't do that this year then hopefully we can do it again next year."

Flintoff said he would prefer the tournament to be hosted in England rather than South Africa since it would be logistically easier for him. "It would be good to spend some more time at home so obviously I'd prefer England, but I'm sure South Africa would do a good job of staging it if it went there as well."

But Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman who plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders, said it was a sensible decision given the situation in India with the elections though he added it would be disappointing not play in front of Indian crowds. "If you can't guarantee the safety of the players involved in the tournament it makes it pretty hard to hold the tournament regardless of where it is," McCullum was quoted as saying to NZPA.

Heath Mills, New Zealand Players' Cricket Association chief, also welcomed the move and said the players had had concerns over the level of security that would be arranged while playing in India. "That was always going to be an issue and we were having difficulty engaging the IPL and the Indian board on those security issues. So to have it moved is a good thing," Mills said.

Mills said news of the move had surprised him for despite the clash with the elections he had expected the IPL to insist on staging the tournament in India. "Whether they get the same size crowds as they did in India remains to be seen. I'd question whether they would, given the significant population there and their obsession with cricket. But who knows, we'll just have to wait and see. From our point of view, we certainly hope it's as successful as last year."

Reports suggest a powerful lobby in the Indian board has backed England as a venue but the final decision is subject to the ECB overcoming considerable obstacles related to costs and logistics and the approval of its stakeholders.