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Players, NZC hammer out pay settlement
- NZC chief Snedden says he is looking forward to India’s tour

Auckland: The bitter pay dispute between New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the country’s first-class cricketers was settled after top players met NZC chief executive Martin Snedden on Monday.

Snedden told a news conference that the two parties had resolved the dispute and reached an agreement which would take the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association (NZCPA) and NZC through to mid-2006.

NZC had offered a players’ pool payment of $NZ 5 million ($ US2.5 million) for each of the next four years but Snedden said on Monday that this had been upped to $ NZ5.1 million.

“That extra money and a little bit of tweaking to our final offer has led to today’s agreement,” Snedden said. “I am confident we will now have a good working relationship with our cricketers and I am looking forward to the coming domestic season and the visit of India.”

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and allrounder Chris Cairns stepped in to negotiate on behalf of the players over the last few days and Snedden said he was glad to be able to speak directly to the cricketers.

“Once we were able to do that you can see resolution came fairly quickly,” he said.

The row between the NZCPA and NZC has simmered during talks over the last six months and came to a head when the 128 members of the NZCPA, including the international players, withdrew from any involvement with their provincial teams from October 1.

A final offer from NZC was rejected a week ago by the NZCPA, which led to NZC breaking off all negotiations.

“Once the bargaining process was stalled, there was a feeling in all of our hearts we wanted a resolution,” Cairns said. “Rather than sit there and do nothing, I felt my contribution could help to get us on the park.”

This season is an important one for Cairns, who missed the majority of the last home series against England because of surgery to his left knee. That operation kept him out of the tour of the West Indies and the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and he is naturally keen to play again.

India arrive in New Zealand in early December for a tour containing two Tests and seven one-day Internationals.

The domestic season begins on November 23 with a four-day championship match between Central Districts and Otago in Wanganui.

But NZC last week cancelled the annual season-opening ‘Cricket Max’ tournament between the six first-class provinces, a mini version of the one-day game, and the national second XI competition due to begin in January.

While the Max tournament is unlikely to be revived, NZC may still resurrect the second XI competition.

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