New Zealand ‘challenged a little’ with players lured by T20 franchises, says coach Stead

Coach Gary Stead expects New Zealand’s playing resources to be put under further pressure by the expanding franchise T20 scene, as the selectors get set to address the immediate future of Trent Boult now that he does not hold a central contract after stepping away from it in early August.

Boult has deals in the BBL and ILT20 during December and January when New Zealand will be touring Pakistan. Boult’s decision to opt out of a central contract was followed by Colin de Grandhomme announcing his international retirement after taking a BBL contract just weeks later. Then, come September, even Jimmy Neesham declined an NZC contract to instead honour overseas league commitments

Stead admitted that it was a situation the game would likely be confronted with more in the coming years.

“I think New Zealand are a country that have been challenged a little with the likes of Trent and Colin de Grandhomme, and the decisions they’ve made,” he told reporters in Sydney. “So I think in the next 12 months we will continue to be challenged with our thinking around that, and what that looks like. I don’t necessarily have an answer for you now because I’m not sure what that will look like in 12 months’ time.”

New Zealand exited the men’s T20 World Cup after a semi-final loss to Pakistan, and will be naming their squad to face India in six limited-overs games on Monday. That series will begin on November 18. Although Boult had said he would remain available for selection despite not being on a full-time contract with NZC, there was no guarantee given by the board as to when he would be picked beyond the World Cup.

NZC has accommodated the pressures of the IPL by allowing players flexibility to miss late-season internationals and arrive last-minute for tours following the tournament, but the newer leagues now completely overlapping with their season adds a different dynamic. However, Stead said that the fact New Zealand players are sought-after was a sign of how well they and the country’s cricket was regarded.

“I think it is a bigger challenge [than the IPL] – no doubt about it,” Stead said. “I’m sure we have a number of players that are attractive to some of the leagues as well. That says something about their calibre as players and the way we play as a team. So there’s no doubt a lot of thinking and a lot talking needs to go through that area.”

On New Zealand’s T20 World Cup exit, Stead echoed the views of captain Kane Williamson that they had let themselves down, although he thought they had done well to recover from 49 for 3 to reach 152 for 4.

“We use the same security outfit as England do, so I’m sure that will give us guidance of what that will look like in the future”

Stead on New Zealand’s upcoming tour of Pakistan

“We are frustrated that we didn’t put out the performance we showed earlier in the tournament [which] we are capable of,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing to stomach. I don’t think we were too far away from a score that was really competitive; and full credit to Pakistan. In my opinion, [they have] the best bowling attack in the World Cup, so to scrap away the way we did was still a pretty good performance.”

The home series against India will begin with three T20Is, which will be followed by three ODIs, as the focus switches towards the 50-over format with an eye on next year’s World Cup.

“That naturally happens as you go through those cycles,” Stead said. “We play a little bit more one-day cricket now than we have previously. We’ve had quite a diet of T20 cricket leading into this World Cup, and that will now shift.”

After India visit, there is the scheduled tour of Pakistan for two Tests and three ODIs during December and January. New Zealand pulled out of a trip last year on security advice, and the recent attack on former prime minister Imran Khan and the subsequent political unrest have raised questions about England’s visit, which precedes New Zealand’s.

“We use the same security outfit as England do, so I’m sure that will give us guidance of what that will look like in the future,” Stead said.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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