Auckland: A pay dispute involving 128 top players has left New Zealand Cricket (NZC) without a team to face India in the December-January series and with threats of recrimination by the players’ association.
National and provincial bodies, in attempting to break the strike, have begun approaching non-contracted players — effectively club cricketers — in an attempt to assemble new national and first-class sides.
But at least one fringe player, who has been signed, claims to have been threatened by the players’ body.
Mark Tulloch, a 24-year-old kitchen hand and cycle courier, who has signed to play for Wellington, said he had been warned of future ramifications for his career.
“I never received a phone call until after I signed with Wellington,” Tulloch said on Thursday. “Then I received four abusive calls from the players’ association and they told me they’d not play with me and my career would be nothing.
“I’m my own man and I just love to play cricket. I’ve put in a lot of extra work and I just can’t wait around another year to pursue my dream.”
If top players remain unified — and attitudes on both sides have hardened since talks broke down on Tuesday — the New Zealand team chosen for two Tests and seven one-dayers against India may be a 12th-string side.
New Zealand’s national body and the six first-class associations — the equivalent of Australia’s state or England’s County sides — have begun to scout suburban playing fields for new talent.
Chief executive Martin Snedden has refused to discuss New Zealand Cricket’s recruitment strategy, or to say how successful it has been since pay negotiations collapsed. He has dismissed assertions New Zealand will have to field a club side against India.
Player representatives rejected a final offer from New Zealand Cricket of a nine per cent pay increase for internationals and between 11 and 18 per cent for first-class players. Players had sought increases of around 60 per cent.
Under the pay schedule suggested by the national body, New Zealand’s 20 contracted internationals would receive annual retainers of up to NZ$120,000 (US$58,000), exclusive of match fees and prize money.
First-class players would receive up to NZ$38,000 (US$18,000) for a four-month season, also exclusive of match fees.
Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has said in clear terms that the tour will go ahead, adds a Staff Reporter in Calcutta. The BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya assured that India will go to New Zealand, whatever the nature of opposition be.
“It’s an internal matter of NZC and their players’ association. The Indian team will certainly tour the country and would be happy to play against any team fielded by the board,” Dalmiya said.
India are scheduled to play two Test matches and seven one-day Internationals in the series.
Dec. 4 — Festival game vs Max Blacks in Christchurch; Dec. 6-8 — Three dayer vs Central Districts in Napier; Dec. 12-16 — First Test in Wellington; Dec. 19-23 — Second Test in Hamilton; Dec. 26 — First ODI in Auckland (D/N); Dec. 29 — Second ODI in Napier; Jan. 1, 2003 — Third ODI in Christchurch (D/N); Jan. 4 — Fourth ODI in Queenstown; Jan. 8 — Fifth ODI in Wellington (D/N); Jan. 11 — Sixth ODI in Auckland (D/N); Jan. 14 — Seventh ODI in Hamilton (D/N).