Black Caps stars unavailable for World XI series in Pakistan despite US$100,000 carrot
New Zealand Cricket will not release any of its contracted players, who are reportedly being offered more than $100,000 to play in a World XI series in Pakistan next month.
Despite the Black Caps not having any confirmed internationals in September, NZC chief executive David White said their 21 centrally contracted players would not be involved in the team being assembled by former England coach Andy Flower.
He is understood to have cast the net wide, with some Black Caps stars in his sights and the Telegraph reporting players being offered US$100,000 (NZ$138,000) to play three T20 matches in Lahore and attend a pre-series camp in Dubai.
But NZC would not stand in the way of recent internationals like Luke Ronchi - who is on the wish list - or Brendon McCullum if they opted in, pending a risk assessment by security expert Reg Dickason for the Federation of International Cricketers' Association (Fica).
"For the contracted players it's highly likely they will be unavailable [for Pakistan] due to other international commitments, that I can't say any more about at this stage," White said.
This is understood to be a New Zealand A tour of the subcontinent, which will be followed by three ODIs and three Twenty20s in India on yet-to-be confirmed dates in October.
"For the non-contracted players there's ongoing security advice from the ICC, and I know the Players' Association has sought independent security advice as well. They'll be guided by that advice and make a decision and they would have to assume the risk of going [to Pakistan]."
NZC still needs to issue no-objection certificates (NOC) for non-contracted players like McCullum, Ronchi or Grant Elliott to appear in overseas Twenty20 leagues or the proposed three T20s in Pakistan on September 21, 23 and 27.
White said NZC would comply if any non-contracted player accepted Flower's invitation to tour Pakistan, which has only hosted a Zimbabwe tour in 2015 since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked by gunmen in Lahore in 2009. New Zealand last toured Pakistan in 2003, when Chris Cairns led a team shorn of frontline players in five ODIs, a year after a bomb blast outside their Karachi hotel cut short their tour in May 2002.
Asked if his stance on NZC contracted players was a convenient excuse to save stars like Martin Guptill or Trent Boult having to make a tricky decision on their safety, White said: "It's reality. We can't announce it yet but there's a fairly strong possibility we'll have international commitments over that period that would preclude the players participating."
The International Cricket Council backed a return of top-level cricket to Pakistan at its annual meeting in June, with England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke saying: "The desire is to give the cricket-starved Pakistani supporters the chance to see some of the world's finest players in live action. Furthermore, the terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan."
Earlier this year Fica warned players not to travel to Pakistan, but the Pakistan Super League final was played without incident in Lahore in March after the rest of the tournament was staged in the UAE. Nathan McCullum was the only New Zealander in either of the teams who made the final, and he joined several others in withdrawing due to safety concerns.
Ronchi, who confirmed his international retirement in June and is currently playing the England T20 Blast, was among players named by outgoing PCB chairman Shahryar Khan last month as likely drawcards for the World XI, along with Hashim Amla and Michael Clarke.
Former Australian captain Clarke later wrote on Twitter it was the first he'd heard of being involved.
New Zealand Players' Association boss Heath Mills said Dickason's risk assessment was still being worked through with the ICC and Pakistan board.
"I know that they [organisers] plan to speak to some New Zealand players and [Ronchi] was one of them. We've advised them all that Fica are currently working through getting a risk assessment completed and we'll be sending it out to to the guys so they can make up their minds if they decide they want to go, as to whether the risk is worth it."