LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The Indian Premier League (IPL) should be scrapped to safeguard the long-term health of cricket, according to former England all-rounder Ian Botham.
Botham believes the big-money Twenty20 competition featuring eight franchises which bid for the cream of the world's leading one-day talent has become too powerful and could be fuelling corruption in the game.
"I am worried about the IPL," Botham said during his MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's.
"In fact I fear that it shouldn't be there at all as it is changing the priorities in world cricket.
"Players are slaves to it. Administrators bow to it."
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen was picked by Delhi for this year's tournament, a deal worth 20 million rupees, although India's Yuvraj Singh drew the highest bid of 140 million Indian rupees ($2.32 million) from the Vijay Mallya-owned Bangalore franchise.
"How on earth did the IPL own the best players in the world for two months a year and not pay a penny to the boards who brought these players into the game?" Botham said.
Botham said the IPL, which has been tarnished by several corruption cases since its inception in 2008, could fuel the scourge of spot-fixing.
"Corruption is enough of a problem in itself, but the IPL compounds that problem given it provides the perfect opportunity for betting and therefore fixing," he said.
Earlier this year India's top court temporarily relieved N. Srinivasan of his duties as the country's cricket board president in the wake of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan being indicted for illegal betting on the 2013 IPL tournament.
The scandal surfaced when former test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other local cricketers, all playing for the Rajasthan Royals, were arrested on suspicion of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs.
Sreesanth, who had denied any wrongdoing, was subsequently banned for life by the BCCI. (1 US dollar = 60.3750 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)