New Delhi: The second edition of the Indian Premier League, which is being played in South Africa, will not see many of cricket"s top stars in action.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting and middle order batsman Michael Hussey have opted out to rest their tired limbs after a backbreaking schedule.
Having played non-stop cricket since September, both players have preferred to take a breather before a tour of England which features the World Twenty20 championships in June followed by the Ashes.
Ponting was sold for 400 000 dollars to the Kolkata Knight Riders at last year's auction. Hussey, a prolific left-hander, was also picked up cheap by the Chennai Super Kings at 350 000 dollars.
Two other Australians, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, did not even put themselves up for auction, saying they wanted to concentrate on their international careers.
Expensive players are not guaranteed their entire riches as the England duo of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff have found out. Both went for record sums of 1.55 million dollars each at this year's auction, but England''s home series against the West Indies in May has shortened their IPL participation to the first two weeks.
Players are paid on a pro-rata basis and two other England stars, Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah, will also be similarly affected.
Collingwood and Shah were picked up by the Delhi Daredevils team for identical amounts of 275 000 dollars each.
The International Cricket Council''s decision not to set aside a window for what is an essentially Indian domestic tournament is hurting other players also.
West Indian captain Chris Gayle, who commands 800 000 dollars from the Kolkata Knight Riders, and team-mate Fidel Edwards, a new signee with the Deccan Chargers for 150 000 dollars, will also be available for two weeks.
Australian pacer Brett Lee and controversial all-rounder Andrew Symonds were set for the entire five-week IPL season since neither was part of the national squad in South Africa. However, both earned call-ups for Australia''s one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates from April 22 to May 7, and left them facing a huge financial setback.
Symonds, bought by the Deccan Chargers for 1.35 million dollars last year, will now be available for only the last two weeks of the IPL. Lee, a 900 000 dollar signee with Kings XI Punjab, may not even play at all as the Australian medical staff monitors his recovery from ankle and foot injury ahead of the Ashes.
The biggest losers are the Pakistani cricketers who were thrown out of the IPL this year after Islamabad denied them permission to travel to India for the tournament following growing tensions between the two countries.
The players'appeal to allow them to return to the IPL since the tournament had been shifted to South Africa was rejected by tournament organisers.