Australia’s elite cricketers put country before IPL cash

Country comes before cash for Australia’s elite cricketers with international commitments and the battle for the Ashes pushing the glitzy Indian Premier League into the background.

Seven IPL-contracted stars, including crowd-pleasers, Brett Lee, 2008 IPL player of the tournament Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds, will be playing for Australia in the One-day series against Pakistan, starting in Dubai next week.

Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting and senior batsman Mike Hussey also won’t be backing up for a second IPL season in an effort to freshen up after an arduous season ahead of the Ashes series in England later this year.

Pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson and team vice-captain Michael Clarke did not nominate for the 2009 IPL auction, instead placing a priority on their international commitments.

Last year’s leading run-scorer Shaun Marsh, Nathan Bracken, James Hopes and David Hussey will all be playing for Australia in Dubai.

Lee and Symonds will be the big losers financially.

Symonds will lose around 1.35 million US for missing the bulk of the Deccan Chargers campaign, while Lee could forgo around 1 million US the Kings XI Punjab.

Lee’s manager, Neil Maxwell, said his client’s focus was solely on breaking back in the Australian side and the paceman was prepared to miss the IPL to follow the wishes of national medical staff after ankle and foot surgery.

“It is a matter of the Australian medical team having a look at him while he is in front of them,” Maxwell said.

“The plan for him is to come back and be 100 percent for the Ashes (starting in July).”

Retired Australian cricket greats Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Matt Hayden and Glenn McGrath, will be back for the IPL along with batsmen Brad Hodge and David Warner.

Warne led the Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural title and the 39-year-old spin great is hoping to win over the South African fans with Proteas captain Graeme Smith playing under him.

“The (South African) public have booed me most of the time, but hopefully playing with the Rajasthan Royals they’ll get behind me,” Warne said.

“Hopefully when I come on to bowl I’ll get a clap, or a cheer or whistle. They’re pretty vocal. They love their cricket. Having Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel in the side will help.”

McGrath, who retired from Test cricket at the same time as Warne in 2007, says the IPL had changed the nature of world cricket.

“I think it probably has, hopefully for the better,” he said. “As a player, it’s good to go over there.

“Twenty20 is quite a fast, exciting game and also I think the big selling point for me as well was that I get to play with guys that I don’t (normally) get to play with.

“And you get to see how they play, how they prepare.

“We become pretty good friends when we play against each other, but then we play with each other, it’s different again and that’s what I like about the IPL.”

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