Lahore, Apr 15: Former Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram warned that the Indian Premier League could seriously damage international cricket if the game's governing body fails to intervene.
The lucrative IPL, which starts from Thursday, has already stirred controversy with high profile players willing to retire to feature in the multi-million dollar bonanza.
"I fear the IPL can be a serious distraction and destruction if the International Cricket Council (ICC) doesn't intervene because it involves huge money and players are ready to abandon international cricket," Akram said.
The Twenty20 competition, promoted by the Indian cricket board and featuring stars from around the world, lines up eight teams bought by franchises which selected their players via auction last month.
The tournament marks the first time that international cricketers will put aside national allegiances to play for privately-owned and city-based teams.
"The ICC should have foreseen the danger 10 years ago because the ICC and cricket boards of countries earn billions of dollars with players getting a small percentage, so such a thing was bound to happen," Akram said.
"Had players been paid properly by the ICC and the boards they would not have joined such leagues. Now there has come a stage where players are willing to opt out of international cricket, which is dangerous."
Akram, who played 104 Tests and 356 one-day matches during an illustrious career for Pakistan, said he hoped new ICC chief Haroon Lorgat, who will replace Malcolm Speed in June, would tackle the problem.
"The new ICC chief executive seems a level-headed man and I hope he finds a solution," he said.
Akram also said that huge interest in Twenty20 was a potential danger for 50-over one-day cricket.
"Test cricket will stay on as it is but I think the ICC will have to find some ways to keep the 50-over interest alive," said Akram who holds the world record of most one-day wickets with 502.
"Overs 20 to 40 are starting to prove boring for fans -- even I would not watch the middle overs if players like Adam Gilchrist, Sanath Jayasuriya and Shahid Afridi aren't batting," he said.
Akram further criticised the IPL authorities for their strict media guidelines, which have forced international agencies to boycott the event.
"In a culture like ours no event can get off without media coverage," Akram said. "I see these restrictions as odd, unwise and hope they relent because people want to see pictures and coverage in print."