Lure of cash-rich IPL taking the shine off international cricket

Eight members of the New Zealand squad have not travelled to Pakistan due to their commitments with the ongoing IPL

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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— AFP
— AFP

Published: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 11:38 PM

Not far away from the glare and hullabaloo of the IPL, Pakistan will host a makeshift New Zealand side in a back-to-back T20 and ODI series in the build-up to this year’s ICC World Cup in India.

However, while fans in Pakistan can look forward to some big-time cricket in their backyard, it comes at a price. A big price.

Eight members of the New Zealand squad, including several players who were in the team that lost to Australia in the 2021 T20 World Cup, have not travelled to Pakistan due to their commitments with the ongoing IPL.

This raises the question of how and why the Kiwi board has not taken exception and asked organisers of the franchise-based tournament in India to release their registered players to represent the country on an official tour.

It is hard to imagine that an agreement between top players like Tim Southee, Glenn Phillips, and Devon Conway and the New Zealand Cricket Board, that allows them a special exemption to disregard national duty and play in franchise cricket instead.

It also sets a precedent that, under normal circumstances would lead to a collision between the two parties, as players find their loyalties split as a result of the high stakes they earn in cash-fuelled tournaments like the IPL.

Meanwhile, batsman Tom Latham, who led the Kiwis during a tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh in 2017, once again assumes the role of captain of a squad stacked with newcomers.

In an interesting development, the Black Caps roped in legendary Pakistani spinner Saqlain Mushtaq who will act as an advisor and right-hand man to head coach Gary Stead.

The ace spinner coached the Pakistan national team until as recently as February.

However, the absence of top players is sure to be felt, not just by the Black Caps, but by Pakistan’s adoring fans who have been deprived of watching big-name players in action in their backyard.

The lustre of the series is doubtless to be compromised with the ticket-buying fans getting a raw deal even if they hope to feast on rookie players like Cole McConchie and Benjamin Lister.

However, Stead issued an upbeat bulletin to the New Zealand Cricket website.

“The successful ODI series earlier this year in Pakistan provided big learning opportunities for the players, and having more ODI match experience is fantastic in a World Cup year,” he said in the statement.

“Cole has been a leader for Canterbury and at New Zealand 'A' level for a number of seasons, but his contributions to winning games across formats really stood out this summer.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan will field full-strength squads in both the top series, which gets underway in Lahore from Friday, and the five ODIs which tees off on April 27.

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