Smith signs up for Indian board’s league

Skipper Graeme Smith and four other South Africans are among 10 current internationals to have signed up for the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) to be played next year, organisers said on Tuesday.

Building on the national team’s Twenty20 World Cup triumph, the Indian cricket board is to launch its own multimillion-dollar professional Twenty20 league, the IPL.

It will counter a rival Twenty20 league which has attracted a number of big names but has come under pressure after the board refused to give it approval.

Batsmen Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince and rising all-rounder Albie Morkel are the other South African cricketers to sign up along with New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori and all-rounder Scott Styris.

Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who was linked to the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) earlier, West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sri Lankan paceman Chaminda Vaas and retired Australian batsman Justin Langer have also signed up.

The Indian board said last month the league would be played in April next year with $3-million in prize money and eight teams to be bought by franchisees.

Each franchise would have a playing squad of sixteen comprising BCCI registered players drawn from a central pool of Indian players and designated players, who could be contracted players from the Indian national team or the overseas pool.

National boards also jointly announced a Champions Twenty20 league from next year offering $5-million in prize money and featuring two finalists each from leagues in India, Australia, South Africa and England.

Eight Sri Lankans, including skipper Mahela Jayawardene and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, had signed up earlier.

Retired Australian stalwarts Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have opted for the official Indian version which will also feature New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming and India’s Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and Anil Kumble. – Reuters

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