Kiwis might opt for IPL over country, says Daniel Vettori

New Zealand’s top cricketers may choose to play in the Indian Premier League rather than for their country if cricket’s international calendar continues to create conflict between the two, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said on Sunday.

Vettori told the Herald newspaper on Sunday that players may be forced to choose cash over country in future and hinted players came close to making that decision Friday before signing New Zealand contracts hours ahead of a deadline.

New Zealand’s six IPL players, including Vettori, committed to playing in New Zealand’s Test matches against Australia next March, although the series overlaps the first half of the 2010 IPL season.

Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum may have to sacrifice as much as $350,000 of his $700,000 contract with the Kolkata Knight Riders to keep that commitment to the New Zealand team. IPL payments are made on a prorata basis, and players lose some of their contracted payments for each match they miss.

The start of next IPL season has been brought forward to around March 12 to avoid a clash with the ICC Twenty20 World Championship which begins in the Caribbean on April 28. New Zealand’s series against Australia, which has reportedly been shortened from three Tests to two to reduce the IPL overlap, is likely to finish March 31, ruling players out of the first half of the Indian season.

Vettori told the Herald on Sunday that had the March series been against one of cricket’s lesser nations, such as Bangladesh, rather than against Australia, some New Zealand players might have chosen to play in the IPL rather than the Test matches.

He said he, McCullum, all-rounder Jacob Oram, batsmen Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor and fast bowler Kyle Mills had carefully weighed issues before deciding to sign their New Zealand contracts at the expense to their IPL involvement.

“A lot of guys put a lot of thought into it,” Vettori said. “I am only 30 and have a lot of goals I still want to achieve with New Zealand. It’s a difficult decision and people have families and other issues to work through but our priority was to play for New Zealand.

“We want to make the most of that and have a successful team. But we realize that if these situations continue to come up it will be difficult for players to continue to turn down the money, so we implore the powers that be to (find a solution) so we don’t have to make these decisions every year.

“If Bangladesh were here (rather than Australia) it might have been an easier decision for players. It didn’t come into my thinking because my priority is to play for New Zealand.”

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said the ICC must find a window in its calendar to allow the IPL to coexist with the international game.

“There are reasons why it doesn’t exist and I understand that,” Vaughan said.

“The IPL is a domestic competition … but it is bigger than that. It’s not just the domestic competition of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) but the pinnacle Twenty20 competition. It gets the best players and the ICC need to find a way to live with that.”

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