Dylan Cleaver: 'Clarity' is all about the money

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Sometimes it is hard to know whether to channel the rage or let apathy wash over you.

Last week, when the news emerged that some Black Caps had sought and had been granted extensions before signing the central contracts offered to them by New Zealand Cricket, was one such occasion.

They want some "clarity" around dates for the New Zealand home summer - specifically the much-anticipated tour by Australia. On the surface there's not much wrong with that but the subtext was fairly obvious - they want to make sure it doesn't cut across their Indian Premier League commitments.

This is the modern reality, apparently. But think about what's wrong with this scenario: NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan and his Australian counterpart James Sutherland are being pressured into coming up with an itinerary for what should be a marquee series between transtasman rivals that does not prevent players taking full part in a competition in which teams are owned by Bollywood actors and beer makers.

It really makes you tattoo the Southern Cross on to your chest, doesn't it?

People are quick to put the boot into Twenty20 for razing the cricket landscape but Twenty20 isn't necessarily the problem - the IPL and the salaries it can offer is.

Can you blame Jacob Oram for wanting some guarantees he is going to be able to fulfil his $1 million contract with the Chennai Super Kings? He's probably not going to earn much more than a measly $250,000 (cough, splutter) playing for his country over the next 12 months.

He has entered the twilight of his career and probably feels he is just one more significant injury away from the scrapheap and that cannot be a comfortable position for any professional sportsman.

But on the other hand, you have to feel that the real impediment to Oram picking up a decent IPL contract past 2010 is not the international schedule but his international form.

He has barely scraped together a score since his test century at Lord's on last year's tour to England and even Oram, judging by comments coming out of the New Zealand camp recently, has probably been surprised at how quickly the public goodwill towards him - goodwill that was warranted after eight years of national service - has evaporated.

Public opinion is something the Black Caps would be absolute fools to ignore, as they did when the IPL'ers turned up late for the tour to England last year.

Fans will get angry when they feel the national team is being short-changed because they still care deeply for international cricket and its primacy.

You will often hear players and their representatives offering a plaintive "we are only reacting to the environment that has been created".

But they only have to turn an ear to the public to realise in their eyes it has been the players' hunger for the lucrative Twenty20 contracts just as much as the cricket overlords' thirst for the broadcasting dollar, that has perpetrated the current cricket "environment".

It won't be long before anger at that situation will turn to world-weary apathy. When people get apathetic they stop going to the grounds, they stop flicking on the TVs and they stop passing on any enthusiasm they had for the sport to their children.

That's when cricket will be in real trouble.

- Herald on Sunday

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