IPL has brought Indian and Australian boards closer

May 8th, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Veturi Srivatsa
New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) The Indian Premier League (IPL) has brought the cricketing ties between India and Australia to an even keel from an all-time low after the rancorous winter series between the two countries down under. The tour is remembered more for the racism row, appalling on-field behaviour and “obnoxious” media manipulation than for some quality cricket.

Seizing the opportunity provided by the new-found camaraderie between the players of the two countries, Cricket Australia (CA) has invited Inderjit Singh Bindra, India’s representative to the International Cricket Council (ICC), to address its directors on various issues confronting the two boards as well as international cricket.

Bindra, who will take over as special adviser to the world governing body in July after the annual ICC week, will impress upon the Australian cricket bosses the need for greater understanding between the two boards when he meets them Friday at Aitken Hill, the salubrious suburban conference resort of Melbourne.

The discussions are an extension of the talks CA Chairman Creagh O’Connor and Chief Executive James Sutherland had with their Indian counterparts here and in Bangalore at the time of the IPL inauguration last month. The two sides had then agreed that they should work together for globalising the game. To start with, North America and China are on their radar.

Also on the agenda will be issues stemming from the IPL, and the format and schedule for the proposed Champions League in September after the ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan. They will also consider the possibility of expanding the IPL and the Champions League by starting similar Twenty20 tournaments in England, West Indies and Pakistan, if not Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

There will also be a discussion on the ambiguity about Australian players turning out for IPL teams in case their state or county sides make it to the Champions League. As of now only a couple of players will be affected by their dual loyalty. Still, the issue can be prickly once the Champions League goes big.

CA and IPL have informally agreed that players playing in the Premier League will stick to their franchise teams if they qualify for the Champions League. For instance, David Hussey will turn out for Knight Riders in case the Kolkata team makes it to the Champions League and not for Victoria, Australia’s Twenty20 champion side. Likewise, Shaun Marsh will play for Kings XI Punjab, not for his native Western Australia, runners-up in their national competition.

The IPL wants the finalists of the Twenty20 tournaments in Australia, England and South Africa to join the IPL winners and runners-up in the first edition of the Champions League. The tentative plan is to divide the eight teams into two groups of four teams each and the top two teams from each group will play the semi-finals. That will mean nine matches played over nine days.

The ideal venue for the first champions League is Lord’s in London where the weather conditions and light will allow two matches a day.

As for the bilateral issues between India and Australia, both boards are happy that the IPL has doused the acrimony between the players of the two countries. The Australian cricketers are the most popular in the inaugural IPL with their highly skilful performances and the players, for their part, are finding virtues in everything Indian.

The Australians form the biggest contingent in the Twenty20 tournament even after Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee left on national duty, with little-known Sheffield Shield players joining the eight franchises.

There has been a dramatic turnaround in the attitude of the Australian players. Hayden is now pleading for compassion towards that “obnoxious weed” Harbhajan Singh who is facing untold troubles after slapping team-mate Santhakumaran Sreesanth.

And Symonds is overwhelmed by the reception he got in India dispelling his fears of a hostile response. Sutherland visualised the IPL spin-off when he stated that the brand image of Australian cricket will improve once the players get together and communicate and understand one another better, thanks to the cricketainment. He was right on money!

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