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'Modi using Pietersen, Flintoff as pawns'

October 26, 2008 17:12 IST

England Professional Cricketers Association chief executive Sean Morris has lashed out at IPL chairman Lalit Modi for using pressure tactics on players which has led to Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff being used as "pawns and bargaining chips" in a global power struggle between India and England.

"Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff are keen to play in the IPL, so they'll not be very happy with this news. But they're pawns in a game of international politics between the two boards," Morris said.

"Everyone says you need to create an official window in the international cricket calendar to let the IPL happen. What I'm seeing is the manipulation of Test teams," he was quoted as saying in the Sunday Observer.

Morris' comments came after Modi said England players were welcome to play in the second edition of the IPL starting April next year, only if they commit "for a substantial number of games -- 15 or 16 matches".

"The critical issue for us is whether they are appealing enough for our club owners to have English players only for a few matches," said Modi, adding, "They must be there for substantial numbers of games or for all the matches.

"But I don't think they will commit to playing all the matches, unless something radical happens." Modi also questioned the value England players would add to their IPL teams if they turn our for a brief stint.

"Are the franchise owners happy for Pietersen to play a handful of matches and then go away? I don't think anybody would be happy with that. He wouldn't add any value and would be more of a disruption. It takes time to gel with team-mates and to become part of team strategy and implement that strategy. They need to be there for 15 or 16 matches."

 Morris termed Modi as "clever" and said the IPL chairman can go to any extent in creating a window for his Twenty20 brainchild.

"If Modi has not been given a window, he'll create one through different means. It's probably cheaper this way -- having to sign up, say, ten players rather than do global deals with the other boards. Modi's a clever guy, he's got all the levers and he's decided to go down the strategy of a forcing a window by using the players."

The England and Wales Cricket Board are finding themselves in a precarious situation after Sri Lanka refused to tour early next summer as their best players have IPL commitments.

England's home Test series is scheduled for early May, and the ECB are in talks with West Indies to replace Sri Lanka, but Morris is skeptical about the availability of a strong opposition.

"Chris Gayle (West Indies captain) is getting $ 900,000 to play in the IPL, so what do you think is going to happen there? What are the chances of him coming to play for West Indies in England? It's not going to happen. Who, actually, will be available for England to play? Go through the teams. Scotland or Ireland? There's no one else left," he said.

The ECB will find themselves in a serious financial tangle with host broadcaster Sky, with whom they have contractual agreement of euro 220 million to play international cricket in May, defaulting which they will have to pay back some of the amount.

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