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IPL set to miss top players

The Indian Premier League may bring unforseen riches to the worldís top cricketers, but not everyone has fallen for the lure of the lucre.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting and senior pro Michael Hussey opted out of the IPLís second season starting in South Africa on Saturday to rest tired limbs after a back-breaking schedule.

Having played non-stop cricket since September, both players preferred to take a breather before a tour of England which features the World Twenty20 championships in June followed by the Ashes.

The IPL may not have been an attractive proposition for them anyway. Ponting, one of the modern greats, was sold for a surprisingly low 400,000 dollars to the Kolkata Knight Riders at last yearís auction.

Hussey, a prolific left-hander, was also picked up cheap by the Chennai Super Kings at 350,000 dollars.

Two other Australians, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, did not even put themselves up for auction, saying they wanted to concentrate on their international careers.

Expensive players are not guaranteed their entire riches as the England duo of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff have found out.

Both went for record sums of 1.55 million dollars each at this yearís auction, but Englandís home series against the West Indies in May has shortened their IPL participation to the first two weeks.

Players are paid on a pro-rata basis and two other England stars, Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah, will also be similarly affected. Collingwood and Shah were picked up by the Delhi Daredevils team for identical amounts of 275,000 dollars each. The International Cricket Councilís decision not to set aside a window for what is an essentially Indian domestic tournament is hurting other players also.

West Indian captain Chris Gayle, who commands 800,000 dollars from the Kolkata Knight Riders, and team-mate Fidel Edwards, a new signee with the Deccan Chargers for 150,000 dollars, will also be available for two weeks.

Australian paceman Brett Lee and controversial all-rounder Andrew Symonds were set for the entire five-week IPL season since neither was part of the national squad in South Africa.

However, both earned call-ups for Australiaís one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates from April 22 to May 7, and left them facing a huge financial setback.

Symonds, bought by the Deccan Chargers for 1.35 million last year, will now be available for only the last two weeks of the IPL.

Lee, a 900,000-dollar signee with Kings XI Punjab, may not even play at all as the Australian medical staff monitors his recovery from ankle and foot injury ahead of the Ashes.

Australian Shane Watson, who was the IPLís player of the tournament last year, is also out till May 7 due to his inclusion for the Pakistan series. NEW DELHI, April 16, 2009 AFP



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