Monday, September 7, 2009

IPL commitments force New Zealand to cut Australia test

WELLINGTON, Sept 7 - New Zealand have shortened next year's home test series against Australia to two matches to help alleviate scheduling conflicts with the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 season.

Six senior New Zealand players, including captain Daniel Vettori, delayed signing their contracts with New Zealand's cricket board until late July, after conflicts between the IPL and the team's international programme were clarified.

IPL player payments are made on a pro-rata basis, reducing the money paid to players when they miss parts of the tournament.

The Australians traditionally play three tests when touring their neighbours but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said it had cut the series back to two tests due to the "compressed nature of the tour".

"Playing test cricket in New Zealand after the cessation of daylight saving and deep into the second week of April is not realistic," NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan said in a statement on Monday.

"Therefore our only option has been to limit the series to two tests."


The abridged tour, concluding with the second test finishing on March 31 at the latest, would allow New Zealand players to play in the final three weeks of the IPL competition running from March 12-April 25.

The IPL brought forward its own start date to ensure the turnament would be completed before the Twenty20 World Cup begins in the West Indies on April 30.

After protracted negotiations, New Zealand players signed NZC contracts despite standing to lose "significant" sums of money, the board said in July.

Vettori later told local media that players might not be so accommodating in future.

Australia's tour would also include two Twenty20 matches kicking off on Feb. 26, followed by five one-day internationals before the first test starts in Wellington on March 13, NZC said.

New Zealand would also play an "away" three-test series on home soil against Pakistan in November, after the tour was rescheduled and shifted for security reasons.

Bangladesh are also completing a short tour in February, prior to the Australia series, which includes three ODIs, a Twenty20 match and a test. (Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne;

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