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MUMBAI: Former New Zealand batsman Nathan Astle on Monday sounded skeptical on whether the BCCI-backed Indian Premier League will succeed in bringing top foreign players due to the packed international calendar.

“IPL (floated by the Indian Cricket Board), Indian Cricket League (of which Astle is a part of) and the Stanford League are all very good for the game. But I am not sure how it can bring together so many players here in India (for 44 days) with the packed calendar,” he said today.

Astle, who is part of the ICL’s Mumbai Champs team, said he did not get an offer from the IPL after he chucked away his international career in January prior to the World Cup, adding ICL would benefit young Indian cricketers.

“I threw it away (international career) in January itself. I am sure the young Indian cricketers will learn by playing with or against people like (Brian) Lara, Chris Cairns, myself and other ex-international players. This is applicable to Twenty20 games too, the learning process,” he said at the Western Railway ground in Mahalakshmi.

The 36-year-old former opener, who considers the back-to-back Test hundreds he struck in the West Indies against the pace attack of Courtney Walsh, Curtley Ambrose and Ian Bishop in 1996 as something very special He feels his retirement besides those of Craig McMillan and Chris Cairns is impacting New Zealand team.

“I am passionate about New Zealand cricket. I feel it will take two years for the team to recover following the retirement of Chris Cairns, McMillan and myself,” he said.

Astle, scorer of 4702 runs in 81 Tests and 7090 runs in 222 ODIs, trashed the revolutionary idea of former Australian team’s coach John Buchanan to allow players to choose the country for which they wanted to play.

“I know where it’s coming from. It needs to be thrown out the window. I don’t think any cricketer from any country would want to play for any other country,” he declared.

He also hit out at former Australian hockey skipper Ric Charlesworth for trying to induct methods alien to New Zealand players’ culture within a short period of two years as New Zealand Cricket’s high performance manager.

“Good luck to you people. I heard he’s here (to advise Indian hockey officialdom). He tried to change too much in our cricket in too short a time. Australians are confident by nature and we, Kiwis, are reserved,” he said with a smile.

The ex-New Zealand player felt that Twenty20 format was the ideal one to help spread the game to places like China and the America.

“It’s a good format for spreading the game to China and America. It’s exciting and gets over in three and a half hours. It has rejuvenated cricket in rugby-mad New Zealand and has brought in the younger generation,” he said.

But he also cautioned the authorities not to go for an overkill by playing too many Twenty20 internationals leading to fans’ disinterest as is the case with 50-over games.

“But the organisers need to be careful that there’s not too much of this thing and prevent overkill as is happening now (in 50-over games). One match is followed by another within two days,” said Astle who has signed a two-year contract with the ICL.
 
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