Pup' Clarke puts country ahead of cash

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Melbourne, Feb.20 : Michael "Pup" Clarke has announced that his first preference would be to play for Australia and possibly captain it, rather than go for the huge cash bonanza being offered by the Board of Control for Cricket in India' s (BCCI) Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

Clarke has been joined on the IPL rejection list by young pacer Mitchell Johnson and Australia's new wicketkeeper-in-waiting, Brad Haddin.

Jason Gillespie withdrew from the IPL because of contractual problems.

The IPL will spend millions buying some of Australia's finest players at an auction that is to take place in Mumbai today.

Had Clarke accepted the IPL offer, he could have made hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next three years, but according tp Fox Sports, he believes his priorities lie elsewhere.

"I think the IPL is a great competition and I love Twenty20 cricket and playing in India, but the timing is not right for me from a family and cricket perspective," Clarke said on Tuesday.

"I'm 26 years of age and I want to give myself every chance of having a long career for Australia. I just want to win the CB Cup (one-day series), the Pura Cup for NSW and take the old man fishing," Clarke said.

Eight Cricket Australia contracted players, including Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds have accepted offers to play in the IPL along with three state contracted players and the retired Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

The hastily arranged Twenty20 competition, which has raised two billion dollars in television rights and franchise sales for the eight teams, begins on April 18 and runs for six weeks.

Reports last night suggested that India's one-day team in Australia is unhappy with some of the conditions in their IPL contracts and is yet to sign on the dotted line.

Once they do, a total of 89 players from all major cricketing countries will be available for auction, with Adam Gilchrist one of the most sought-after.

Gilchrist is expected to earn more than double his base contract of 300,000 dollars, while Warne may attract more.

Matthew Hayden, who was one of the last players to sign, wanted to ensure his personal Foster's sponsorship did not conflict with one of the franchises, which is owned by Indian beer company Kingfisher.

The 36-year-old believes the IPL could be the ideal lead-in to the West Indies tour in May and June if the Pakistan tour from next month is cancelled for safety and security reasons.

Neil Maxwell, IPL's agent in Australia and manager of Brett Lee and Mike Hussey among others, said players would be paid pro-rata depending on how many IPL games they are available for.

"If they don't play, they don't get paid," Maxwell said.

Players can earn 10 per cent of their IPL contract by doing promotional work in India even if they don't play.

ANI

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