Cricket: Whopper payouts will test team spirit

By David Leggat

New Zealand's changing room doesn't immediately appeal as a hotbed of seething resentment.

But revelations of whopping guarantees for 34 international cricketers to join the Twenty20 Indian Premier League - including five New Zealanders - will inevitably raise the spectre of unease between the haves and have-nots.

The five - former captain Stephen Fleming (US$350,000, or $456,000), current skipper Daniel Vettori (US$225,000), allrounder Jacob Oram (US$200,000), wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum (US$175,000) and batsman Scott Styris (US$150,000) - will be part of the International Cricket Council-sanctioned IPL in April, which it is understood will have 49 players' signatures before the kick-off.

Consider a scenario whereby, during the England tour to New Zealand from February until late March, players unwanted by the IPL are playing out of their skins while some of the chosen five are not contributing.

Human nature could have those not contracted to the league glancing across the changing room and muttering darkly at the unfairness of it all.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan is aware of the potential for discontent.

"It's a difficult scenario we're going to have to work through as time goes on," he said yesterday.

Many of the IPL signees are on three-year contracts. That means players, irrespective of their form in the next three years, might not be able to secure a contract as there is no room.

That would leave them vulnerable to a rebel offer.

Vaughan said having the financial details public was good, cutting down the chances for wild speculation.

And NZC will need to revisit its payment structure to ensure non-IPL players are not easily enticed to a rebel Twenty20 outfit.

"We'll talk to the players' association because they are very mindful of that situation and we certainly don't want these players being lost to international cricket," Vaughan said.

"But it's great our players can make a lot of money playing cricket. That's fantastic."

There are plenty of details to be revealed about the IPL.

The five New Zealand players, assuming they are chosen, will be required in England for the start of that tour on April 27.

The IPL sits between New Zealand's home and away series with England, but it's not a perfect fit.

The third test in Napier ends on March 26; the opening tour match in England against the McC at Arundel Castle is on April 27.

But with countries having first call on their players for international duty, the New Zealanders might only spend about four weeks playing in India.

"There is primacy given to international cricket and the players knew when they signed on that if their board requires them to be available for New Zealand then they can't play IPL," Vaughan said, which raises the issue of whether franchises would be keen on players who might miss the business end of the league.

To no one's surprise, Shane Warne is the top earner with a massive US$400,000 sign-on. Fleming is joint second with recently retired Australian bowler Glenn McGrath.

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