London: One of Australia's greatest cricketers got Dimitri Mascarenhas into the new Indian Premier League (IPL) and now the England all-rounder can't wait to face more Aussies when the inaugural edition of the Twenty20 competition starts on April 18.
Mascarenhas, the only England player so far involved in the IPL, plays his county cricket for Hampshire where Shane Warne was the captain until quitting the side ahead of the start of the upcoming English season.
It was thanks to the legendary leg-spinner that Mascarenhas, born in London to Sri Lankan parents but brought up in Perth, Western Australia, before returning to England, found himself involved in the IPL.
"It's an exciting time for me," Mascarenhas, who has played 10 one-day internationals and nine Twenty20 matches, including one against Australia, told reporters at Lord's here Monday.
"I'm very much looking forward to it," said the 30-year-old, yet to play Test cricket. It came really late for me.
"Shane is the captain and coach of the Jaipur franchise and he asked me real late on, after the first auction, 'we haven't signed that many players we'd like to have you, would you be interested?'
"I said 'of course it's a great opportunity'."
He added: I've played against Australia before (he was run out for four and conceded 22 runs in two wicketless overs during England's eight-wicket defeat in the World Twenty20 in Cape Town back in September).
"But I haven't faced Brett Lee, added Mascarenhas, a medium-pacer and hard-hitting batsman, who looked forward to going up against the fast bowler.
"I've bowled at Andrew Symonds a little bit in county cricket and Twenty20 and he hits them hard.
"It will be pretty fun to bowl at him and Adam Gilchrist - I think they are both in the same team and so is (South Africa batsman) Herschelle Gibbs so that will be interesting."
Mascarenhas, appointed Hampshire captain when Warne stunned the county last month by quitting the south coast club with a season left on his contract, insisted his IPL role would not harm his England hopes.
"I'm not missing any one-day internationals for England. From speaking to Geoff Miller (England's senior selector) and Peter Moores (the England coach) they are all pretty positive about it.
"At this stage they don't see too much of a problem. I can't see why other players won't do it in the future.
"My contract states that if dates clash I play for England. I've done pretty well but I'm still in and out of the side. I want to play every game.
"At this stage my next target is New Zealand over here," said Mascarenhas, who averages over 31 with the bat in one-day internationals and an expensive 51 with the ball.
Mascarenhas has signed a three-year contract with Jaipur's Rajasthan Royals. Initially, he is set to play for his new side for two weeks this year before returning to Hampshire although he could go back if Jaipur get through the first round.
"Because I got in so late, I literally don't know anything about it. I don't know where I am going to be," the 30-year-old Mascarenhas said. "I'm there for two weeks and if we make the finals there's scope for me to go a bit longer."
Nic Pothas could captain Hampshire in Mascarenhas's absence although it is still uncertain if the wicket-keeper will be able to play county cricket this season on account of his participation in the rebel Indian Cricket League.
But Mascarenhas did not foresee any problems.
"Nic went off to the ICL but Hampshire realise how important he is and I'm sure they are going to support him."
England play New Zealand in a Twenty20 match at Old Trafford on June 13 with the first of five one-dayers between the sides at the Riverside two days later.