Michael Clarke has made ‘bombshell’ claims Australian cricketers ‘sucked up’ to India and Virat Kohli by holding back on verbal sledging to protect lucrative Indian Premier League deals.
Clarke said players were “too scared" to play a normal game against India because of the influence of the world's wealthiest cricket tournament.
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“Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL,” Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday.
“I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India.
“They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players,” he said, referring to the verbal sparring that often takes place on the pitch.
Australian players have attracted big money since the IPL started in 2008.
Paceman Pat Cummins is the most expensive overseas star this year with Kolkata Knight Riders paying $3.2 million.
The contest has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic and the league must announce soon whether it will be held at all.
The league was due to feature top internationals including England's Ben Stokes and David Warner of Australia.
Clarke, who played for the now-defunct Pune Warriors in 2012, said Australian players coveted the million-dollar deals on offer.
“The players were like: ‘I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks’.”
“I feel like that’s where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing.”
The league is a huge revenue earner for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.
A number of Indian publications described Clarke’s comments as ‘bombshell’ claims.
No certainty for 2020 IPL and mega auction
Cricket's hiatus will have a knock-on effect way beyond 2020, with the IPL's much-anticipated 2021 'mega auction' looking likely to be delayed as questions grow over this season's competition.
Players around the world are waiting to hear more regarding this year's IPL, as has been the case for almost a month.
On March 13, IPL organisers pushed the start of the tournament back to April 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has been no further formal update as India's board and franchise owners continue to discuss options for the Twenty20 bonanza that was slated to end on May 24.
The league's five-year broadcast deal, running until 2022, is worth $3.2 billion, underlining part of the complexity involved in making the decision to postpone or cancel.
As sporting organisations around the world cut costs, uncertainty also clouds India's plans for the 2021 season.
The widespread expectation was that the bulk of the world's talent would be released from franchises and up for grabs at the next auction, with some insiders tipping superstars could be sold for more than $5 million.
The IPL may instead opt to allow clubs to retain more players for 2021, with the Indian Express already reporting there will be no ‘mega auction’ next year.
with AAP and Yahoo Sports Staff