Money is all that seems to matter

BY JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 09:13 27/07/2009

Strong message from NZ cricketers

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OPINION: Silly us. We've been all churned up about the lack of success of our national cricket team when the reason was right under our noses - they simply don't give a rat's about playing for their country anymore.

Already a side with a major credibility problem, New Zealand's top players began digging their own graves at the weekend with the admission through their skipper, Daniel Vettori, that the only time the lads want to pull on the silver fern now is when the Indian Premier League is in recess.

Forget the system that created them, forget loyalty to country and the long-suffering fans, New Zealand's overhyped and under-performing cricketers are fast becoming an embarrassment to all those that have gone before them.

Brendon McCullum's name has been to the fore throughout the standoff between the players and New Zealand Cricket because he is the highest-paid Black Cap in the IPL.

McCullum has an IPL contract worth US$700,000 a year, but will get only half of that this time around because New Zealand have a series against Australia in March that overlaps with the IPL. Mind you, haven't heard too many Australians bemoaning the fact.

The whole cash-over-country debate comes down to personal choice. Does a healthy bank balance bring you more joy than a test hundred or five-wicket bag?

Can you put a price on conversations with children and grandchildren in years to come?

"Dad, did you ever score a hundred against Australia?"

"No son, but I had a strike-rate of 143 for the Bengal Whatstheirnames."

Clouding the New Zealand players thoughts will be the realisation that their stocks are about to plummet.

Let's not beat around the bush here. The IPL is coming to the end of its first three-year cycle and all indications are that the silly money thrown around at the outset will not be repeated in year four.

Reputations are in tatters. Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills will struggle to get signed again, McCullum's price will drop and there is no guessing what Bangalore have made of Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder.

Hence this year the "select six" are in a fit because they have no idea what is around the corner.

One theory is the New Zealand players may in future years angle for tour-by-tour contracts with the national body. That would allow them to be fully involved in the IPL and leave their selection for New Zealand to the whim of selectors.

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That stance would rival among the boldest taken in New Zealand sport. Not only would you imagine it to be a public relations disaster but chances are the players might find themselves out of a job completely given the IPL maintains that international cricket takes precedence.

At the end of the day, if the players wish to be taken seriously from the International Cricket Council to the man in the street, then they should start putting some performances on the board.

As for the gobbledegook from NZC boss Justin Vaughan and players' spokesman Heath Mills about the decision to sign by the "select six" being brave and honourable.

Bollocks.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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