By Syed Khalid Mahmood
It’s becoming increasingly clear now that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has attained the highest priority for the administrators of the game world over. Every cricket board seems to have made a point of late not to schedule many international games at a time when the IPL is planned to be held.
Although New Zealand Cricket have given another excuse but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that it’s the IPL that actually prompted them to shorten Australia’s tour to their country in the coming season.
Australia's tour to New Zealand in 2009-10 features two Twenty20 Internationals in late February to be followed by a five-match ODI series for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and two Tests.
Originally three Tests were scheduled to be held during the tour but the itinerary released by the New Zealand authorities the other one mentioned only two Tests to be held in Wellington and Hamilton starting on March 19 and 27 respectively.
It was quite a shocker because it will be the first time in 20 years that New Zealand would be hosting Australia for a series of less than three Tests. It would keep the top guns of Australia and New Zealand players engaged until March 31 and they would then be free for the IPL.
The IPL 3 will be getting underway in India on March 12 and will continue till April 25. The decision to scrap the third and final Test between New Zealand and Australia would allow the players of both teams around 10 more days in the IPL.
"Playing Test cricket in New Zealand after the cessation of daylight saving and deep into the second week of April is not realistic. Therefore our only option has been to limit the series to two Tests," Justin Vaughan, the Chief Executive of New Zealand Cricket, explained.
Isn’t it a strange argument because New Zealand had played host to a Test match against India during the month of April only this year. In fact a Test match was added to tour upon the request of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who denied more action for their team following the cancellation of the tour of Pakistan.
Well the New Zealand Cricket need to find some other reason to justify their decision to cut short the Test series against Australia.
Obviously the New Zealand Cricket is not the only board in the world that has made a move to accommodate the IPL. They could not have done this without the blessings of the more powerful Cricket Australia. Both the boards must have been in agreement to have two Tests instead of the planned three.
Anyways there is plenty of cricketing activities to be held in New Zealand in the coming season as they would now be hosting Pakistan instead of touring the country. Pakistan would now be playing their three ‘home’ Tests against New Zealand in New Zealand. Between the tours of Pakistan and Australia, New Zealand would also be playing host to Bangladesh.
September 8, 2009