Black Caps given leave to play IPL

By Dylan Cleaver

Several Black Caps, including newly minted millionaire Trent Boult, will be allowed to miss the bulk of the tour to Ireland to concentrate on their Indian Premier League campaigns.

New Zealand is due to arrive in Ireland on May 7 for a one-day tri-series also involving Bangladesh. The round-robin matches of the cash-rich Indian Premier League do not finish until May 14, with the final to be played on May 21.

The players affected could be, depending on selection, Boult (Kolkata), captain Kane Williamson (Hyderabad), Corey Anderson (Delhi), Adam Milne (Bangalore), Mitchell McClenaghan (Mumbai), Matt Henry (Punjab), Tim Southee (Mumbai), Martin Guptill (Punjab) and Lockie Ferguson (Pune).

New Zealand plays Ireland and Bangladesh twice each, with the first match on May 14 and the final one 10 days later. The series was arranged as preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy being held in England in June.

Ross Taylor is the likely candidate to captain New Zealand with Williamson in India.

"Ideally, we'd like our touring squad to remain together from day one until the end, with the players undergoing the same experiences and being judged and monitored in the same environment," said New zealand cricket CEO David White. "The reality is that the IPL has changed all that, through the sheer power of its financial clout. As the West Indies' example has already shown us, we have much to lose in terms of opposing IPL participation and, relatively speaking, very little to gain."

Prioritising the IPL over country has raised the hackles of purists in the past but there is a big difference between missing the bulk of a low-key ODI tri-series and arriving in England on the eve of a test match at Lord's, as has been the case in the past.

"I think our strategic approach to this one has been bang on: Encourage our Black Caps to continue playing for New Zealand by allowing them to share in the opportunities now available in the professional market. Don't force them to choose between cash and country and risk a backlash," White said.

"At least on this occasion, they'll be moving from one short-form, white-ball tournament to another... I think a compromise in which our players can feel they're getting the best of both worlds, is the prudent option."

The decision will see a lot of second-tier or fringe Black Caps playing ODIs in Ireland. They will be encouraged to stay on in England either with counties or club sides as potential back-up for the main squad.

The late returning IPLers will also have the opportunity to acclimatise before the Champions Trophy, with New Zealand playing india at The Oval and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston before their tournament proper starts with a transtasman clash, also at Edgbaston.

- NZ Herald

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