New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White has praised his two star players Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor for quitting the Indian Premier League to join their Black Caps team-mates in England.
McCullum and Taylor sought releases from Kolkata and Pune, respectively, because their immediate playing prospects in the IPL were slim. The decision comes at some financial cost to both players, but is good for New Zealand.
McCullum was expected to join the team in Derby last night (NZ time) and Taylor will arrive this weekend.
The Black Caps play the first warm-up match, against Derbyshire, tonight (NZ time), with the first test starting on May 16.
''I don't know all the details but I understand they pro-actively approached their franchises about an early release because they are really keen to get over to the team,'' White said. ''It is great news for us.''
The IPL has been a non-event as far as New Zealand's involvement is concerned. McCullum played just one of Kolkata's 10 games, Taylor five of 10 for Pune (63 runs at 12.60) and Jacob Oram one game for Mumbai (0-22). Nathan McCullum has carried the drinks for Hyderabad, James Franklin has been unsighted at Mumbai and Daniel Vettori can't get a game at Bangalore.
White said he ''isn't close enough'' to the IPL to know why the Kiwis are getting the cold shoulder in India.
''I haven't heard any grizzles [from the New Zealand players],'' White said.
One theory doing the rounds is the Aussies have taken over the IPL, with 35 contracted players backed up by influential coaching figures in the background endorsing their selection. Only four overseas players can take the field at one time.
But that theory doesn't really stack up. Kolkata are coached by Australian Trevor Bayliss but after McCullum overcame his hamstring strain he kept losing out at the selection table to the all-round skills of Jacques Kallis and English innings closer Eoin Morgan.
While Taylor's problem was a clear lack of form Vettori's treatment at Bangalore is a head-scratcher. They are coached by South African Ray Jennings and the assistant coach is former Auckland coach Mark O'Donnell. Bangalore have 34 players in their squad, including eight overseas imports.
Muttiah Muralitharan started out as their first choice spinner but he has only played five of the 10 games. Vettori is a world class limited over bowler but, according to one, source doubts he will play in the tournament.
Oram and Franklin are under Kiwi coach John Wright at Mumbai so no bias can be blamed there and Nathan McCullum was always a long shot to play at Hyderabad under Aussie Tom Moody.
- © Fairfax NZ News