Melbourne, Feb.15 : Cricket Australia (CA) last night issued a blunt warning that it would ban any Australian player who followed their Pakistani counterparts into the rebel Twenty20 Indian Cricket League (ICL).
A day after 10 Pakistani players joined the ICL - which is just as lucrative as the officially sanctioned Indian Premier League (IPL), CA moved swiftly to warn current players their Australian contracts would be shredded and their international careers terminated if they defected.
In a public statement, CA has told its players national and state selectors that it "will treat players who take part only in ICC-approved matches more favourably than those who do not".
According to the Daily Telegraph, they were then informed that "in accordance with relevant ICC regulations and player contract requirements, players will not be offered player contracts or be permitted to continue to be a party to player contracts if, during the term of those contracts, those players take part in unofficial cricket events".
The ICL held its first tournament last December but does not have any current players because governing boards of most Test nations have banned players who joined.
Retired stars such as Brian Lara and Chris Cairns and modest former internationals such as Australians Stuart Law and Ian Harvey were the feature attractions, but that has changed in recent weeks with New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond quitting the Black Caps and the number of Pakistanis in the next tournament rising to 16.
Just-retired former Test stars Matthew Elliott and Michael Kasprowicz are expected to join the ICL and will earn more in this short tournament than they would playing state cricket.
Former Australian star batsman Dean Jones is one of the ICL's chief organisers.
CA's statement highlights the confusion and worry officials around the world have in regard to the sudden explosion of domestic Twenty20 cricket competitions and the millions of dollars they are prepared to pay.
Australian cricket does not want a repeat of the mid-1980s when players defected to the rebel tours of South Africa and the Test team was plunged into chaos.