September 17, 2001

NZC plan for more state matches likely to strike trouble

Scheduling difficulties may compromise New Zealand's proposal to play more state matches on its upcoming tour of Australia, even if the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) grants its in-principle approval to the request this week.

An ACB spokesman said today that the matter would be considered in detail over the next few days.

But, even before such consideration is given to the idea, it would appear that any attempt to organise extra fixtures for the tourists would have the potential to cause significant alterations to an already-packed Australian programme.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Martin Snedden stated last week that he would seek Australia's assistance in organising extra matches if the Black Caps' scheduled tour of Pakistan is not able to proceed in any form next month. That call for assistance came as early as this morning, when Snedden contacted his counterparts in Melbourne to begin to canvas possible solutions to the problem.

Following the recall of its national team from the Pakistan tour in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on the United States of America, NZC is particularly keen to have the side participate in at least two more four-day games in Australia ahead of the First Test, which begins in Brisbane on 8 November. But, beyond the already organised fixture against Queensland in the opening week of November, there seem few apparent windows of opportunity to arrange additional matches.

Without significant restructuring of the hectic schedule of state games already set down for October, the possibility of finding further opponents for the Black Caps appears limited. The addition of an Australia 'A' match to the schedule looms as one possibility, but that option might not strike a chord with state associations already forced to cede their best players to representative teams for the vast bulk of the season.

Each of the six Australian state teams is already rostered to play at least four matches in October, and a full round of Pura Cup games is scheduled to be contested during the last week of that month.

Although Snedden confirmed last week that further cricket against Australian states was NZC's preference, it is possible that his organisation could adopt the fall-back option of playing against Australian country teams or even hastily arranging additional matches in New Zealand. The possibility of a delayed arrival in Pakistan has also not been discounted, albeit that the prospect of such a visit at any time in 2001 now appears unlikely.