Sydney: Australian captain Michael Clarke wants his fellow players to prioritise national duty over playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) if their fitness for international cricket is not to be compromised.
Clarke has preferred playing for Australia by never featuring in the IPL since its inception in 2008. Though he doesn't want his teammates to follow his example, Clarke says a player's focus must be on the country.
"The one thing I love about IPL is that every individual has the opportunity to make their own choice," Clarke was quoted as saying by Herald Sun. "But I think the individual player needs to work out where his body is and make that decision at the time of going into the IPL."
"There is a lot of international cricket. I just don't want to see players not prioritising international cricket. That is my goal, that every player who plays for Australia, that (role) is first and foremost, and Test cricket being the pinnacle of that," said Clake following reports of young fast bowler Patrick Cummins and his senior mate Mitchell Johnson showing interest in IPL 2012.
Cummins is recovering from a foot injury and is doubtful for the series against India in two weeks' time. While senior players in Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger and Johnson are running against the clock to be fit for the highly anticipated contest starting with the first Test in Melbourne Dec 26.
Clarke says he is ready to offer advise to the players, including Cummins, on the country versus club issue.
"I don't know if it's my place. As Cricket Australia have said for a long time, it is really out of their control. It's up to the individual player. If Patty (Cummins) wants to come and speak to me, I'll be more than happy to give him my views on it."
"If your body can handle playing IPL and Champions League, that is up to the individual. I think that is great."