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Friday, January 30, 2009

Kevin Pietersen gets huge IPL price tag

Kevin Pietersen has been priced up as the most expensive Englishman in the auction for the Indian Premier League.

The ex-England captain has been valued at a minimum of $1.35m (£944,000), IPL commissioner Lalit Modi has revealed.

The IPL list also includes fellow England stars Andrew Flintoff, Monty Panesar, Steve Harmison, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell and Matt Prior.

Former England internationals Darren Gough and Dominic Cork have also been included in the player auction.

It set to take place on 6 February in Goa where the eight IPL franchises will bid for players.

The league runs from 10 April to 29 May, although contracted England players are only permitted to go for three weeks.

The England & Wales Cricket Board wants to ensure its centrally-contracted players return in time for the Lord's Test against the West Indies on 6 May.

The IPL auction list includes eight players who are centrally contracted to the ECB - Pietersen, Flintoff, Harmison, Bell, Collingwood, Panesar, James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom.

Flintoff has been rated at a minimum of $950,000 (£664,000), which means that both he and Pietersen can expect to receive more than £350,000 for three weeks work on a pro rata basis.

One-day specialists Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, Graeme Swann and Luke Wright, who hold incremental ECB contracts, are also on the list - along with the uncontracted Ed Joyce, Rob Key and Sajid Mahmood, who have all played international cricket.

However, former England captain Michael Vaughan said he opted against putting his name forward, preferring to concentrate on regaining his place in the national side.

"I'm not too sure whether I would have been bought at the auction, but my [aim] is to get back into the Test team and to do that I have to play four-day cricket," said the 34-year-old Yorkshireman.

Shaun Udal was also a surprise inclusion on the IPL auction list, but the 39-year-old off-spinner, who captained Middlesex to victory in last year's domestic Twenty20 Cup, has rejected a lucrative short-term deal.

"I've decided, after some soul searching and advice from people I trust, not to enter myself into the auction," he said.

"One of the main reasons is the Middlesex captaincy, which is something that I really treasure."

Seamer Gough, 38, retired from first-class cricket in September after ending his second spell with Yorkshire.

Lancashire released Cork, 37, last August and Hampshire have since signed the all-rounder on a two-year contract.

Essex wicketkeeper James Foster had been on the initial auction list, but the 28-year-old said he will prioritise his county duties.

"Realistically, I do not think it likely that I will be involved this year given the number of international and highly-regarded local wicketkeepers who are already signed up by the franchises and the restriction on the number of overseas players allowed," he told said.

Centrally-contracted paceman Stuart Broad, England's highest-ranked bowler in one-day cricket, has decided against putting his name forward.

Vaughan, new captain Andrew Strauss and opener Alastair Cook were the other contracted players to opt out, along with wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, who holds an incremental contract.

Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England team, said: "We've got a very important summer ahead of us with the World Twenty20 and the Ashes and this is a decision Stuart has made and we must respect that.

"Players will prepare in different ways for this summer. Stuart has chosen one way and others have chosen another way."

With a limited amount of franchise places available for overseas players in the IPL auction, it is unlikely all the England players will be picked up.

But Morris is confident that for those who do secure an IPL spot, it will prove to be a positive experience: "It's very much down to the players. It's their choice, the IPL is a fantastic opportunity.

"With the Twenty20 World Championship happening in England at the beginning of the summer, it's nice to have the opportunity for some our players to play Twenty20 cricket.

"The players who go there are going to be playing with and against some of the best players in the world in what we see as a very high-profile, very important tournament."

The first English player to play in the IPL was Hampshire's Dimitri Mascarenhas, who signed for Rajasthan Royals last year and is set to return for a second campaign.

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