DURBAN: Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, has endorsed Australia's decision to pull out Shane Watson, Nathan Bracken and James Hopes, three key players in their World Twenty20 squad, from the IPL.
Arthur said he would have done the same thing if he was on "their side" because Australia had to play the Ashes almost immediately after the ICC event in England next month.
South Africa have 12 from their 15-member World Twenty20 squad playing in the IPL, including Graeme Smith, the captain, and Arthur admitted that there was an element of risk involved when it comes to picking up injuries during the Indian league. "There is an element of risk in having so many of our World Twenty20 players playing in the IPL, but the key lies in what happens after," Arthur told Cricinfo. "The situation is different for Australia and South Africa. We are out of action for two months after the World Twenty20, while Australia have the important Ashes coming up immediately after. I would have done the same thing if I was on their side."
Arthur, however, said that the IPL was an "ideal preparatory tournament" for his players, leading into the World Twenty20 starting on June 5. "It's obviously the same format and from a coaching point of view, the IPL will help our players stay nice and sharp for the World Twenty20," he said.
South Africa, which is hosting this IPL, are second on the list of countries that have members of their World Twenty20 squad playing in the league, after India, which has its entire 15-member team participating - Sri Lanka has 11, and England and New Zealand released seven players each.
Arthur said he was "keenly tracking" the tournament on TV, but will visit the ground for the first time to watch an IPL game on Friday evening. "I have been invited by the Delhi Daredevils management to attend their match in East London today against Mumbai Indians," he said. "I will be catching an IPL match at the ground for the first time and that will be a new experience."