Black Caps facing promo games in the USA

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2013
David White
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DAVID WHITE: "It's very important for New Zealand Cricket that we have international cricket in Christchurch."

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New Zealand Cricket could require Black Caps players to play promotional games in the United States this year, despite a proposed American Twenty20 league being delayed until mid-2014.

But Players' Association chief executive Heath Mills says NZC has not communicated the possibility, and encouraged them to do so quickly - with the international schedule "already a nightmare" to juggle.

NZC is a partner in a joint venture launching a new international T20 league in the United States. It was to start this year, but was recently postponed until the middle of 2014 due to logistical issues, most notably a lack of suitable facilities in the US.

NZC is understood to hold a stake of approximately 25 per cent in the concept's parent company, Cricket Holdings America LLC, which is a joint venture with the USA Cricket Association and private financiers.

Chief executive of NZC, David White, has reaffirmed his organisation's backing, despite the setbacks. He said NZC is contractually bound to the project.

Exhibition matches are now being considered in an attempt to drum up awareness for the delayed 2014 launch - matches which would probably be held in Lauderhill, Florida, the United States' only city with a venue approved by the International Cricket Council.

White confirmed Black Caps' players could be called upon to play in the exhibitions if they went ahead.

"Possibly, possibly," White told the Sunday Star-Times.

"There's discussions going on but nothing's been confirmed."

Mills said players were happy to help the global development of cricket, but that scheduling was already a major issue. He urged NZC to open dialogue on the American venture.

Mills said he was not aware NZ Cricket was considering Black Caps for extra games this year, whether in the US, or anywhere else.

"We're normally kept well informed on these issues, they [NZC] are normally very good," he said.

"But I'm not aware on what the latest is with the States situation other than the T20 tournament has been delayed to next year. I'd be keen to hear what the latest is.

"Players are very keen to support the development of cricket, that's fantastic. But I'm not aware of anything like these exhibitions being on the radar for Black Caps.

"Our arrangement with New Zealand Cricket means any additional matches have to be agreed.

"The increased amount of internal cricket is a good thing for the game, but the international schedule is now 11 months long.

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"The powers that be need to have a discussion about the schedule and workload - sooner, rather than later. It's a big issue.

"Whether more games could fit into the current model, I don't know. It's already a nightmare."

White said he wasn't concerned by the delay in the launch of the American league and confirmed NZC has not made any financial investment for its stake in Cricket Holdings America.

"We're contributing expertise, there's no risk for us from a financial point of view," he said.

"There's been investment in terms of time for employees, that's been significant.

"It's an opportunity, America has a large expatriate community who are interested in cricket. It's an ambitious project and there's still quite a lot of work to be done to get it off the ground.

"One of the biggest challenges is infrastructure, but we're in constant dialogue with our other partners and we're working on it."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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