Pietersen defends IPL interest

Published: Friday, April 18, 2008, 6:41 [IST]
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Kevin Pietersen has insisted England players' interest in appearing in the Indian Premier League is not a sign of disloyalty but something "anyone in their right mind" would consider seriously.

It has been reported that Pietersen, the most gifted batsman currently in the England side, was offered a seven-figure sum to take part in the inaugural IPL, a domestic Twenty20 tournament in India, which starts on Friday.

But all centrally-contracted England players have been barred from this year's edition because the IPL clashes with both the start of the English domestic and home international seasons.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke has also expressed reservations about centrally contracted players featuring in next year's IPL and running the risk of injury ahead of the 2009 Ashes.

Pietersen, who has previously labelled talk of a ban on the involvement of England players in the IPL as "ridiculous", said Thursday: "I don't see anything wrong with saying we want to go and play and earn that kind of money.

"People who nail us for it are not going to pay for my child's school fees in 15 years' time.

"You have to look after yourself because you are not going to be playing cricket when you are 50 or 60.

"To be offered the kind of money I have been offered, it is ridiculous for someone to abuse you about it. It is like winning the lottery and anybody in their right mind would go for it," added Pietersen.

South Africa-born Pietersen, 27, who averages nearly 50 in his 36 Tests, made it clear he had no intention of sacrificing his England career for the lure of the Rajasthan Royals or the Kolkata Knight Riders.

But he said there were sound cricketing reasons for England players, whose commercial worth has been established by their performances in international cricket, to participate in the IPL.

"The best players in the world will be honing their skills for the next six weeks," Pietersen added.

"It will increase the scores in one-dayers and it will make players make a few more shots in Test too."

English officials have responded to players' IPL concerns by talking to Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, the man behind the West Indies' domestic Twenty20 competition which has proved popular in the Caribbean.

England tour the West Indies next year and there is a possibility of a 10 million pounds (20 million dollars) winner-takes-all Twenty20 match against a local All-Stars side.

"I hope I get selected," Pietersen said. "It is very exciting because money like that hasn't been talked about in cricket before.

"For a one-off fixture, to know you could come home with the best part of a million in your pocket, it's amazing."

An increasingly congested international programme means fewer and fewer top-class overseas players are now able to spend a full season with an English county as was the widespread case in the 1970s and 1980s.

Pietersen said the IPL would make county cricket even less attractive for cricket's top stars.

"The guys are going to get so much money from the IPL," he said.

"Why would a fast bowler want to come and play in England, tour up and down the country for six months, play in everything that he has to, and have the pressure that he is under, to earn 70 grand (thousand pounds), when he could play in India for six weeks and earn 500 grand?

"It just doesn't make sense to me."

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