Mitchell McClenaghan has requested New Zealand Cricket to terminate his contract in favour of working as a T20 freelancer.

The Herald understands the left-arm pace bowler wants to choose contract work in global franchise leagues over earning a regular salary.

The decision was effectively confirmed with the 31-year-old's selection in the Durban Qalanders as part of South Africa's new T20 Global League. The competition runs from November 4 to December 16 and clashes with New Zealand's Plunket Shield and the Burger King Super Smash T20.

If McClenaghan's wish is granted, NZC might be vulnerable to other Black Caps making similar decisions.


If players place the financial security of T20 leagues above the prestige of playing tests, they can pinball around the world in brief stints. New Zealand are only scheduled to play four tests between April 2017 and October 2018. If the country's test game withers, more players might rush into the arms of T20 and suffer less wear and tear in the process.

New Zealand are the world's No 1 ranked T20 side. A record number of Kiwis, 11, were represented in this year's Indian Premier League, and that trend could filter to other competitions if McClenaghan's stance is a gauge.

Black Caps are considered susceptible to freelance deals because NZC cannot pay them the same retainers as peers operating under larger economies of scale in India, Australia and England.

Combine that with the mushrooming in T20 leagues; eight of the 12 full International Cricket Council members currently host such events, but they cover less than eight months of the year.

Often an NZC-contracted representative could be away at least that length of time in a given year, but might pocket less cash.

The decision to sign a national contract was once a fait accompli. Last year players signed base deals valued at between $83,000 and $205,000 and, if selected, earned match fees ranging from $8495 per test, $3682 per ODI and $2407 per T20.

Those figures can be compared to standard contracts of US$30,000-$50,000 ($41,500- $69,000) in most T20 franchise competitions.

The IPL is a step up on those numbers. McClenaghan was the fourth highest wicket-taker last season, snaring 19 at an average of 26.68 and strike rate of 17 for the Mumbai Indians. That means his pay packet of US$44,000 can expect an exponential boost at the 2018 auction.

In addition to his IPL deal and signing in South Africa, McClenaghan is playing for the St Lucia Stars in the Caribbean Premier League. Australian Big Bash League franchises are also courting him this summer.

Signing with those leagues would almost certainly trump his NZC income and enable McClenaghan to better balance his life. Those deals could be supplemented by negotiating a domestic contract with a major association (maximum $43,500 plus match fees in 2016-17).

Alternatively, sticking to a national contract and requesting NZC-issued "no objection certificates" can still get players access to global T20 deals. The governing body tends to be flexible with player requests.

However, months commuting between hotels and practice nets can create a tipping point between "time absent from home" versus "income earned". It depends how much energy players are prepared to commit to the game, and where their loyalties lie.

McClenaghan can still play for New Zealand, but his return would be on a needs-must basis. Examples include Daniel Vettori's recall for the 2014 Sharjah test against Pakistan and the 2015 World Cup, and Jeetan Patel's cameos last summer.