Vettori joins McCullum at Brisbane Heat
Daniel Vettori has joined the Brisbane Heat with the blessing of Northern Districts, despite an expected clash between the Big Bash League and the HRV Cup. The BBL kicks off on December 16 and New Zealand's Twenty20 tournament is expected to be held during a similar period, meaning Vettori is unlikely to be available for every match in both competitions.
He faced a similar problem two seasons ago, when he flew in to play two games for Queensland between Northern Districts commitments. However, Vettori said he was hopeful of spending more time around the Heat this summer, which could raise questions about his availability for the HRV Cup.
"I played with the Bulls a few seasons back and had a good time so I'm looking forward to being more involved this time with Brisbane," Vettori said. "The travel back and forth was the toughest part of things last time and I'm keen to being a bit more settled with things this time and be around the group a bit more."
Despite the change to city-based teams, Vettori felt he was returning to a familiar environment, typified by the instinctive coaching style of Darren Lehmann.
"I still saw it as the same team, I know there will be a few different changes here and there but it does feel like I'm playing with a similar group of guys," Vettori said. "Knowing Darren Lehmann pretty well and talking on the phone and seeing what direction he wants to take the team was quite a fresh idea to me and something I thought I could really enjoy. Brendon (McCullum) coming on board as well made it even easier.
The Northern Districts CEO, David Cooper, conceded there would be a crossover between dates for the BBL and the HRV Cup, but he said he had no problem with Vettori joining Brisbane. Cooper said Northern Districts were hopeful Vettori would be around for every match of New Zealand's T20 tournament, but that was not yet certain.
"That's to be confirmed," Cooper told ESPNcricinfo. "Certainly discussions that Daniel and I have had so far are that his desire is to play right through our HRV Cup and be part of hopefully leading the Northern Knights to a competition victory.
"Daniel has been talking to me about this and having the opportunity to be part of the Big Bash. We're thrilled for him and like our other players who play in the IPL, it's a great opportunity, and hopefully through their involvement with us we'll benefit from it as well in terms of the experience they'll gather.
"I don't know all the details at this stage in terms of what Daniel has agreed with Brisbane. But we've had discussions and we're waiting for our schedule to be confirmed, and then we can look at what opportunities there are for him to get across and play in Brisbane around our games."
Vettori hinted that his presence in Brisbane might open the door to Northern Districts having access to other Heat or Queensland squad members during future competitions.
"I know Northern Districts and Queensland have a good relationship and that definitely makes it easier for me to pop over and play for them," he said. "I'm sure other teams will have affiliations as time goes on. So if we can get to the stage where a couple of Heat players are popping over to play for ND and vice versa, I think it's going to be good for both competitions."
The Heat will have a similar issue with their other overseas star, Brendon McCullum, who will flit between Otago and Brisbane during the Christmas-New Year period. The Heat coach Darren Lehmann said: "As is the case with Brendon McCullum, we'll work through Dan's availability with his management and New Zealand Cricket and Northern Districts, but whatever he does, he brings absolute class to the table and we are delighted he is on board."
Meanwhile, the Sydney Thunder have finalised their full 18-man squad with the addition of five young players: Sean Abbott, Tim Armstrong, Nic Bills, Matthew Day and Luke Doran. Teams have until this Friday to name their initial list of at least 14 players, meaning Brisbane must add at least two more to their squad, the Melbourne Stars three and the Sydney Sixers four.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo