Melbourne, Mar.17 : Australia's tour to the West Indies is in danger of becoming a farce, as three of the Caribbean's best cricketers could be away on Indian Premier League duties, leaving a sub-standard team to face the world's No. 1 Test outfit.
Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan will not be stopped by the West Indies cricket board from playing in the IPL finals should their sides qualify, even though it overlaps with the three-Test series against Australia in May and June.
The reason is simple and sobering: money, reports The Age.
West Indies cricket chief Donald Peters said the stars were entitled to earn their hefty paydays from the Twenty20 tournament because of the relatively paltry sums on offer to play for the embattled Test nation, and conceded that even if he tried to block the trio, they would go anyway.
"We are aware we may lose the players for the first two Tests against Australia. I asked the selectors to be cognisant of this and to try to put batsmen in that could replace Gayle, Chanderpaul and Sarwan," Peters said.
IPL organisers said this situation would never arise because all players would need no objection certificates from their boards before they could compete in the domestic Indian tournament, but the reality is that financially weak boards are fearful of restricting their best talents from earning big dollars.
"I have the NOCs for the players and I have to release the players, but I am not going to not release the players because they would go anyway," said Peters, who is pushing for an IPL window in the international calendar.
"Given the amount of money involved, it certainly destabilises the infrastructure of cricket. It's not fair to the players and it's not fair to the national teams."
While Cricket Australia has made clear to its players that international matches take precedence over the IPL, the West Indies board appears incapable of making the same rule because the West Indies lack depth and talent.
Peters would anticipate a revolt if he threatened to tear up the national contracts of the three players, realising they could walk and the Windies would be plunged into further turbulence.
The three batsmen were the only Windies players offered IPL contracts, with Gayle fetching a 800,000 dollars per year contract from Kolkata, while Sarwan (Mohali) is on 225,000 dollars and Chanderpaul (Bangalore) on 200,000 dollars.
The IPL runs from April 18 to June 1, so the trio would be able to play the final Test from June 12-16.