T20 has the lure players can't resist

IAN SNOOK
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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OPINION: William Young is age 20, and is Taranaki's brightest cricket prospect since the days of John Morrison in the late 1960s.

In six first-class games he has already notched up one century, and in six Twenty20 matches for the Central Districts Stags he has an impressive strike rate of 131.

With the IPL (Indian Premier League) Twenty20 auctions just completed this week he must be looking on from a distance and wondering in what direction his career should follow - the normal formula of aiming at playing test cricket or the far more lucrative alternative of following the Twenty20 circus around the globe.

Of course he can do both, although he wouldn't want to bat slowly or poorly in the test arena just as Martin Guptill has done and miss out on the riches that cricket can provide nowadays. Surely, though, he must be quietly wondering what he has to do to be on the auctioneers' list come February 2014.

The big boys such as Brendon McCullum can boast representing eight different sides in chasing the big dollar (the Brisbane Heat, Canterbury, Glamorgan, Kochi Tuskers, Kolkata, NSW, Otago and Sussex), which adds up to 157 Twenty20 games and a whole heap of money through contracts and winnings.

If he has a sore back it is more likely because his wallet is too large to carry comfortably, than having to play too many Twenty20s.

Jacob Oram and Lou Vincent are playing in the four-week long and 12-games-per-team (squads of 20) Bangladesh Premier League and picking up about US$75,000 ($89,000) - not bad for scoring 45 runs and taking six wickets as Oram has done in his first five games.

Of course there is also the Big Bash in Australia, Pakistan are about to introduce a five-team, 15-day, 23-match Super League (where the six foreign players in each squad will be insured for US$2 million each as an incentive to get them on board) and there are the tournaments in England, South Africa and New Zealand, which all include invited players.

John Wright is now the Mumbai Indians coach, a task much simpler and the pay much higher, than what he got from NZC as Black Caps coach, while Stephen Fleming is New Zealand's biggest star in the IPL. He was a player in 2008 when everything began and was on a contract of US$350,000.

He has since been coach of the most successful franchise, the Chennai Super Kings and I'm sure his bank balance is considerable.

In April, McCullum, James Franklin, Dan Vettori and the million-dollar man, Ross Taylor, will complete the second year of their two-year contracts.

They will be joined by Jesse Ryder (US$260,000), Nathan McCullum (US$100,000), and Oram (US$50,000) but looking for other work are Guptill and Scott Styris who have missed this year's cut.

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The biggest fairytale story concerns South Africa's young all-rounder Chris Morris, who has one Twenty20 international under his belt.

He had a reserve of US$20,000, only for three franchises to show an interest and start a bidding war that has seen Morris trek off to India to earn US$625,000 for his two months' work.

This must surely have raised a few eyebrows among the host of handy New Zealand youngsters now on the international scene.

Meaningless made-up teams that have encroached on the viability of traditional cricket they may be but the players would be mad not to chase the riches.

It is certainly a far cry from my dad having to fork out $10.50 for two nights' accommodation in Masterton for my first Taranaki game. Mind you, TCA were reimbursing $2 of that at the end of the season!

This winter could be a good time for Young to start practising his scoop over the wicketkeeper.

Ian Snook is a former Taranaki and Central Districts captain. He is one of only four men to have played more than 100 games for Taranaki.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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