Northern Districts are anxiously waiting to see if they will have gun players Corey Anderson and Daniel Vettori for next month's Champions League Twenty20 tournament in India.
The duo are both in ND's squad of 20 that they had to submit recently, but whether they are part of the final 15 remains to be seen, as other teams may instead snap up their services.
Anderson is most likely going to play for the Mumbai Indians - the team he represents in the Indian Premier League. They get first dibs on him because the Champions League tournament is owned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, along with Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa.
If Mumbai want Anderson they have to pay New Zealand Cricket US$150,000, of which ND see about NZ$37,000.
However, the Knights would much rather have Anderson than the money. His big-hitting exploits, not to mention handy overs with the ball, could help bankroll them with a tournament win.
ND are yet to hear from Mumbai and are holding out hope that the 23-year-old could be wearing pink rather than blue. Ironically, the two teams face each other in the last round of qualification games.
"We haven't heard from Mumbai yet so Corey's signed on with us at this stage," said Knights coach James Pamment. "But we expect him to be playing for the Mumbai Indians."
Vettori is the other conundrum for ND, with the veteran left-arm spinner currently playing in the Caribbean Premier League for the Jamaica Tallawahs, who sit top of the table with the semifinals looming. The winner of that competition gets direct entry into the main draw of the Champions League.
But with Vettori having already helped out a heap with the Knights' planning, setting ND up a pre-tournament base in Bangalore - where he was involved coaching the Royal Challengers IPL team - Pamment is confident of keeping the 35-year-old, whose wily brain and variations with the ball will be huge assets on the Indian surfaces.
"If they wanted to buy Daniel that'd be a decision for Daniel," he said. "But all indications are to date that he's very much part of what we're doing in our preparations. But hey, we'll cross that bridge when it comes to it.
"From a financial point of view for the players, to be in the main draw is obviously a step above being in the qualifying tournament.
"Daniel Vettori's just a hugely proud Northern Districts man and I know he's extremely excited about representing Northern Districts at this Twenty20 tournament. And the opportunity to play for the Tallawahs came quite late, he went in as a replacement for [Muttiah] Muralitharan, so it certainly wasn't something he was chasing initially."
ND have to name their squad in about a fortnight. It is likely to include just one of the four Australian imports they fielded last summer. Ben Laughlin will be wanted at the tournament by the Hobart Hurricanes, Luke Feldman is unlikely to be called upon, Chris Tremain has moved from New South Wales to Victoria so may be wanted for the state's pre-season, which leaves the Knights with Daniel Harris, who performed superbly for them with the bat.
ND currently have Scott Styris and Kane Williamson playing country cricket in England, along with six players in the UK with the New Zealand A team (one of those is Dean Brownlie, who is not eligible for the Champions League after only transferring here this season).
With the superb training facilities at Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui, the Knights players back here have already been able to get on grass pitches and hone their skills before they jet off early next month for preparation time and practice matches in Bangalore.
Pamment and the team are excited about the opportunity to try and become the first New Zealand team to win the tournament.
"We know that if we get it right we have a chance of beating anybody on any given day. We've got two of the world's top 10 pace bowlers [Tim Southee and Trent Boult], we've got a genius in Dan Vettori, we've got the best young leg-spinner in New Zealand cricket [Ish Sodhi] and we've got a number of all-rounders who can really turn a game in Twenty20 cricket. You look at our batting lineup with Dan Flynn and Anton Devcich, Dan Harris and Kane Williamson, I think out of those guys, they've all got the ability to manage a Twenty20 innings, and then you complement that with Daryl Mitchell, Scott Kuggeleijn, BJ Watling and Scott Styris, you've got firepower at the end as well. So we've got a lovely balance."
At the moment ND are doing their homework on the three teams they will play in the qualification games - Sri Lanka's Southern Express, the Lahore Lions from Pakistan, and the Mumbai Indians - with the top two of the four advancing to the main draw.
But rather than the coach being up late doing all the scouting on his own, the team has embraced the idea of a collective mission.
"We've got quite an extensive network and we're getting a lot of information on them," Pamment said. "We're using that as an opportunity to grow our group as well. So not only are we doing our scouting through New Zealand Cricket and their technical analysis department, we're using some of our younger players to do the YouTubing and all that sort of thing. It seems to be what the young fellas are into these days."
Meanwhile, ND yesterday named Tony Goodin as their final contracted player for the season. The 25-year-old seam bowler had a contract last season but didn't get to add to his Plunket Shield debut from 2012.
- Waikato Times
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