Long T20 season may limit role of star imports

The three-month duration of the domestic Twenty20 competition may limit the use of imported stars.

New Zealand Cricket yesterday released the 2012/13 domestic programme for all three formats of the game, with the T20 Cup starting on November 2 and finishing on January 20.

That will make it tough for associations to contract overseas players for the duration, with English county cricketers the most likely to be targeted.

Northern Districts chief executive David Cooper said the new schedule may alter the approach towards imports.

"It creates challenges being part of a three-month competition," Cooper said.

The Northern Knights are likely to sign an overseas player as a wicketkeeper-batsman after the retirement of Peter McGlashan and the likely absence of New Zealand wicketkeeper B J Watling throughout the summer.

Cooper said for the bulk of the domestic season - the four-day Plunket Shield campaign and the one-day competition - the Knights may use one of their young wicketkeepers but were likely to opt for a batting glovesman as the side chased their first T20 title.

"That's where the heat really comes on a wicketkeeper," Cooper said.

"There's a decision to be made if we want to put our young keepers under that kind of pressure."

The Knights have six Black Caps on their books - Watling, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Daniel Flynn. New Zealand will tour South Africa from mid-December to late January.

"We're working through the schedule to work out what our Black Caps' commitments will be; who we might see a little of, and who we might not see at all," Cooper said.

The T20 Cup rules allow two overseas players to play at the same time.

Cooper said ND were looking at the option of a second import for possibly part of the T20 campaign.

However, the riches on offer for the high-profile Australian domestic Big Bash T20 competition -which starts in December - would likely limit the availability of international stars for New Zealand sides.

"It would be fair to say we don't even try to compete with the State sides [in Australia]," Cooper said in terms of financial incentives for imports.

"But we're more likely to partner up with them. Rather than playing eight games in Australia, they may find that playing 12 to 14 games in Australasia is a better proposition."

The Knights will have the advantage of playing seven of their 10 T20 Cup games at home, with "away" matches against the Otago Volts and Canterbury Wizards to be played at Hamilton's Seddon Park to allow for live television coverage on Friday nights.

The Grant Bradburn-coached side will play five home T20 Cup games at Seddon Park, and two at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval.

"The benefits of having a purpose-built cricket stadium is reaping the benefits for the city," Cooper said.

Waikato Times