Indian Premier League ‘won’t affect Ashes build-up’

AS Ricky Ponting continues to play down workload issues regarding the IPL, Michael Clarke remains undecided whether to join the lucrative Indian circus this year and Stuart Clark believes it could help his road to recovery.

Heading into his fifth month of international cricket without a break, Ponting denied there was too much cricket, but questioned the tightly packed scheduling of Test series with New Zealand and South Africa this summer.

He dismissed suggestions the IPL would have any significant impact on the Australians, claiming they would only be able to play the last two weeks of the six-week tournament in May.

Following the South African Test and one-day tour, which is scheduled to end in mid-April, Australia is likely to have a five-match one-day series against Pakistan at a neutral venue which would run well into May.

Ponting wondered how many players would withdraw from the IPL after more than eight months of constant cricket and with the Twenty20 World Cup kicking off a four-month tour of England in June that will also include five Tests and seven one-day matches.

“It’s a fair way away,” Ponting said of the IPL. “We’re all going to have to make a judgment call closer to the time the IPL comes around.

“We might only be able to play the last two weeks and a lot of the franchises we play for might have no chance of making the finals.

“There’s all those sorts of things that need to be taken into consideration and worked out between the player and the franchises I guess.”

Vice-captain Michael Clarke was still undecided last night about whether to enter the IPL auction next Friday as his management attempted to work through some outstanding contractual problems.

Clarke, who did not participate last year because of personal issues, has a reserve price of $US1m ($1.5m) for the auction should he enter. Australia’s most expensive signing remains Andrew Symonds at $US1.47m.

Meanwhile, reports from India indicate English players will be competing with the vice-captain for the franchises’ money.

Kevin Pietersen has a $US1.3m reserve price and Andrew Flintoff $US900,000.

The franchises have a budget of $US2m each to spend in the auction and at least two have shown interest in Clarke this summer.

With Stuart Clark making a slower than hoped recovery from elbow surgery, which has ruled him out of next month’s South African tour, the fast bowler believes the IPL could be a good way to continue his preparation for the England tour.

“I still need to play some cricket and that might be one of the options,”‘ he said.

“At a guess if my arm is good I will go in the auction, yes.”

Australia’s injury list has reduced from nine to seven with the return of Clarke (thumb) and Nathan Bracken (calf strain) to the team for tonight’s fifth and final one-day match against South Africa in Perth.

Shaun Tait has been rested to make way for Bracken and Clarke has pushed Cameron White out of the team.

South Africa will overtake Australia as the leading one-day team if it wins tonight’s match to take the series 4-1, although without resting strike bowlers Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini and all-rounder Jacques Kallis that appears less likely.

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