Cricketing legends Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath will play in an inaugural Twenty20 league in India next year, a top cricket board official said.
The Australians and recently retired New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming have signed deals with Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL), its vice-president Lalit Modi said.
The IPL, a domestic Twenty20 competition to be held in India in April next year, offers three million dollars in prize money and will have eight teams to be bought by franchisees.
The IPL, which enjoys the backing of the International Cricket Council, will see the top two sides making it to an international Champions Twenty20 League to be played at an as yet undecided venue in October next year.
"Warne, McGrath and Fleming have signed contracts to play in the IPL," Modi told AFP.
"The trio will be a part of our centralised pool of players and available for signing by the franchisees," said Modi, a key figure in the seven-member governing council set up by the BCCI for the new initiative.
Former skippers Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri are among the other influential members of the council.
While McGrath and Fleming had been present at the glitzy launch of the League here last week, virtually confirming their association, there had been speculation about Warne's availability.
Warne was rumoured to have been wooed consistently by the rival Indian Cricket League (ICL) which plans to hold its own Twenty20 competition in October this year.
Reports in the Australian media Sunday said Warne was pursued by the unofficial ICL for over four months before the ace spinner declined their offer, believed to be 700,000 dollars a season.
The IPL is modelled on the system of franchises used by the American NFL and NBA. Each franchise will pay a fee to the BCCI, which in turn will give it access to shared revenues.
The official Indian version will also feature India's famed quartet of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, all of whom were present at the launch.
Teams could include up to four internationals besides domestic players and local youngsters.
The ICL, bankrolled by media baron Subhash Chandra, has signed at least seven international players including Brian Lara, Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq.