England tour wags Indian Premier League tail

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2014
Brendon McCullum
Reuters
BIG MONEY: Star Black Caps like skipper Brendon McCullum could miss the start of next year's tour to England due to Indian Premier League commitments.

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New Zealand Cricket is confident key players will tour England next year despite a likely clash with the lucrative Indian Premier League.

Lindsay Crocker, the head of cricket for NZC, said they were aware the tour dates - May 8 until June 20 - will probably clash with the last rounds of the IPL.

The dates for the 2015 IPL have not yet been released but this year's tournament ran from mid-April until early June.

The first test between the Black Caps and England starts at Lord's on May 21. The clash could mean key players would likely miss at least the two warmup matches.

This year, five Black Caps players took part in the IPL - captain Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham, Ross Taylor and Tim Southee. The Black Caps faced a similar situation going into this year's tour of the West Indies where they had just 10 players available for a two-day warmup game because of the IPL commitments of McCullum, Southee, Anderson and Taylor.

Crocker said NZC had held discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board about the tournament dates but an international programme set by the International Cricket Council meant there was very little wiggle room.

"That is broadly when that tour must take place. Australia is coming to England just after us. We are obliged to fulfil our touring programme within the block that is allocated."

Crocker said the England tour was the "most problematic of the tours", likely because of the ECB's unwillingness to acknowledge the IPL.

"It's the only tour that causes major problems and it comes around every four or five years, so it is just something we have to manage as it comes up."

The IPL is a huge money earner for a select number of Black Caps. At this year's auction, his first, allrounder Anderson attracted a bid of $866,000 to play in the defending champion Mumbai Indians. McCullum attracted more than $600,000.

NZC contracts have a clause which allows its national players to have seven weeks of leave a year, five of which can be used to play in the IPL.

The agreement was worked out four years ago to stop players deserting the national team in favour of big money in India.

However it is likely players will need to play for most of the tournament in order to attract bids at the IPL auction. IPL teams can have nine overseas players and will lean towards those able to play throughout the tournament.

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Crocker said he was "aware of the importance of the IPL to a lot of the individuals in our national team".

"They have commenced the tour as late as they possibly can given they have to finish it within that block and have the tour complete before the Australians come in."

England want the Black Caps to be at full strength for the two-test, five-ODI, one-T20 tour as they would be playing the Ashes soon after.

Crocker was confident key players, such as McCullum, would be happy playing their five weeks in the IPL before joining the national team.

"We are used to key players missing those first matches. It is just the way it is these days. We are comfortable with that," he said.

"They can earn a great deal playing in the IPL, so it's really important that we give them an opportunity to earn that.

"It suits us and it suits them. It gives them longevity playing for us. It's how we manage the twin needs of international cricket and the IPL by coming to a compromise like that."

New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief executive Heath Mills said the clash was not ideal.

"It's an unfortunate situation where the scheduling in international cricket doesn't take into account the IPL, even though it's clearly an international event.

"However, we have been in these situations before and New Zealand Cricket has been able to navigate their way through it."

- Sunday Star Times

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