Michael Clarke has pulled out of the IPL auction - where he had a base value of US$1 million - citing Australia's busy international schedule for his decision. Clarke was set to be among the top three picks and Chennai Super Kings, last year's finalists, were expected to lead the bidding for him in Goa on Friday.
Clarke, who joins Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Broad in deciding to stay away from the IPL, made the announcement at the MCG, where Australia were preparing for Friday's game against New Zealand. "Speaking with my management, my family, my fiancee and the hierarchy of the IPL and for me this year, I won't be going to the IPL," he said.
"There's probably a number of reasons but the most important thing for me is we've only got a couple of weeks off, we've got a really busy schedule, and I just think for where I'm at with my body and that time at home it's valuable for me. I'd love to take part in it one day. It's just about finding the right time for me to be a part of it."
Clarke chose not to go last year and said it was a tough decision this time. "There's obviously a lot of great things about the IPL and that's why I say I certainly want to be a part of it at some stage," he said. "Every player is in a different position as well but for me - mentally, physically where I am - I just think those two weeks at home will be great for my to come home and see family and friends."
Asked whether he was surprised, given the constraints, that so many Australian players had signed up, Clarke spoke of the positive spin-offs from the tournament. "I think it's a wonderful thing for cricket," he said. "It's definitely improved Twenty20 cricket, certainly played a part in improving one-day cricket and the lead-up to the Twenty20 World Championship is the IPL, so it's pretty good preparation. It doesn't surprise me so many guys are going there. It's just a personal choice at this stage."
Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, believed Clarke opted out to avoid an embarrassment at the auction. "I don't think anybody is ready to pay that kind of price [$1m]," Modi told the news channel NDTV. "The reality is in front of him. He didn't want to be unsold in the auction and so decided to pull out. We asked him to reduce the price but he was unwilling.
"Unfortunately, he pulled out earlier and there was penalty in the first year but this year we have waived off the penalty and I don't think we will be able to move forward like this. We will discuss the matter in our governing council and have the answer by this evening."