Michael Clarke’s claim that Australian cricketers avoided sledging India captain Virat Kohli to save IPL contracts continue to draw strong rejection. Batting legend VVS Laxman says that players are awarded deals based on merit and not because they are nicer to Indian cricketers.

“Just by being nice to someone doesn’t get you a place in IPL. Any franchise will look at the player’s calibre and value add to the team, which gives them desired results by winning matches/tournaments,” Laxman said on Star Sports Cricket Connected.

“These are the kind of players who get IPL contracts. So just being nice to someone will not earn you a spot in the IPL. If you’re friendly with any Indian player it doesn’t mean that you are getting IPL contract,” he added.

The controversial statement from Clarke drew swift response from Australia Test captain Tim Paine and his deputy Pat Cummins.

While Paine claimed it was a policy to not provoke Kohli as he feeds on that, Cummins said the measured behaviour was down to the intense scrutiny Australia cricketers found themselves following the ball-tampering scandal.

Driving home his point, Laxman, who is the mentor of SunRisers Hyderabad, spoke of his own experience when bidding for players at the auction table.

“As a mentor, I’m on the auction table and we select players, those international players that have played exceptionally well for their country and can add value to the franchise. Friendship with any Indian player doesn’t ensure entry into the IPL,” he said.