CA plays down reports of rift betwen board and players

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Sydney, Dec 2 (UNI) Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland today dismissed reports that there is a rift between the players and the board over the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Eleven top Oz cricketers --including captain Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist-- have been roped in by the BCCI for its much hyped IPL. The players have signed an MoU to play in the lucrative tournament expected to kick off next April.

The other prominient players who have signed the MoU with the IPL organisers are Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.

Sutherland, in a letter to the players, said that he would not grant them permission to play in the league unless his organisation was involved in the negotiations.

The players could earn up to 1 million dollars each for competing in the month-long series, well in excess of their normal annual earnings.

Dismissing suggestions, that a major split was looming Sutherland told a news conference today, ''There's no issue between Cricket Australia and the players.'' ''The letter that was published in the paper today is really just a letter of procedural nature just reminding players of responsibilities as this issue continues to develop with opportunities into the Indian Premier League.'' Peter Young, CA's manager of public affairs, though tried to play down the flare-up between the players and CA, told reporters that the players were obliged to inform the CA about their plans and fears fo a major split was a mere speculation.

''I think it is over-egging the pudding a little bit to talk about this being the biggest showdown since World Series Cricket,'' he said.

''It is more an issue of saying it is a bit rude to sign up without talking to your employer. It would be a breach of contract to play without our permission.'' The Aussie top players could earn up to one million Australian dollars for just a few weeks of work with the IPL.

This is on top of their CA contracts, which are worth a minimum 140,000, dollars.

The report also said that the leading cricketers signed long-term IPL contracts, worth 150,000 dollars a year, to play 14 Twenty20 games over a 40-day period in India.

Vice-captain Gilchrist was quick to dismiss any suggestions of a player revolt, telling Australian Associated Press there was no way the players would play in the series without the consent of CA.

''We're not trying to be rebels here. It's a new opportunity for cricketers and it's a very exciting one that I know Cricket Australia are endorsing and encouraging,'' Gilchrist said.

''We're not looking for a moment to bend the rules or our contracts with Cricket Australia. They are our employer, as simple as that.

''We'll abide by their rules at all times and we're not trying to bend those rules whatsoever,'' he was quoted as saying by the 'Australian Associated Press'.

Gilchrist said he did not view the letter as being the start of a ''standoff'' between the players and CA, and dismissed fears that Australian cricket was on the verge of the game's biggest split since Australian millionaire businessman Kerry Packer launched World Series Cricket 30 years ago.

''I don't see (the letter) as a stand off or a threat. It's simply them (CA) stating exactly what their position is, and making sure that everyone is fully aware of it,'' Gilchrist said.

''If the opportunity comes up to play IPL, which a lot of us have signed an MOU to allow us to do, (we will play) but that will always be secondary to international cricket and playing for our country,'' he opined.

UNI

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