Melbourne:Cricket Australia has told 11 of its top players, including captain Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist that they would not be granted permission to play in the ICC-sanctioned Indian Premier League's Twenty20 tournament.
CA Chief Executive James Sutherland claimed the players signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to play in the tournament in April and May without consulting the Board.
"A number of significant issues remain unresolved, particularly regarding Australian players' participation in the proposed events and the terms of participation," Sutherland said.
"Until CA is satisfied with the various terms and conditions associated with the IPL and CT20 (Champions League), CA will not consent to you or any other contracted player's participation in the aforementioned tournaments," he was quoted as saying by the Sun-Herald on Sunday.
Sutherland also made it clear that the players were acting in direct conflict of the terms and conditions of their CA contracts.
"You will no doubt be aware that this MOU sees you providing undertakings that will put you in conflict with your obligations to CA and/or your state association," he wrote.
"In this context, I am disappointed that you have chosen not to discuss or advise CA of your decision."
However, it was intriguing that Sutherland does not know who has signed with the IPL because he and operations manager Michael Brown were at the ICC's headquarters to discuss the structure of the Champions Twenty20 League when IPL agent Neil Maxwell delivered the signed agreements to BCCI representatives in Dubai.
"Cricket Australia doesn't want to put the players in a position where they might have to decide between playing for them or in India," said an agent on condition of anonymity.
"If a player is money orientated, the IPL will win them over. They seem prepared to offer long-term deals and can pay more money. This could be a battle they [CA] won't win. It could divide the game."
Other players at the centre of the showdown include Test and one-day heroes Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.
Australia's top players could earn up to USD 1 million for just a few weeks' work with the IPL. This is on top of their Cricket Australia contracts, which are worth a minimum $140,000.
Those signed to long-term IPL contracts are believed to be being paid at least $150,000 a year to play 14 Twenty20 games over a 40-day period in India.
Some players' income could balloon to seven figures from cashed-up team owners who will pay the players not only to play but also for promotions and marketing.