New Zealand's preparations for England tour likely to be hit March 12, 2008

'I'm not really worried about how it looks' - Vettori

Kyle Mills has been bought by the Mohali franchise for $150,000, but his participation in the IPL is like to conflict with New Zealand's tour of England © Getty Images
Kyle Mills and Ross Taylor joined the burgeoning ranks of New Zealand cricketers headed for the IPL last night, when they were snapped up by Mohali and Bangalore for US$150,000 and US$100,000 respectively in the second round of auctioning in Mumbai. With Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum already signed up, the competition is increasingly likely to conflict with New Zealand's preparations for their tour of England in May.

New Zealand's first scheduled fixture of the England tour is on April 27, against MCC at Arundel, followed by a pair of three-day games against Kent (April 28-30) and Essex (May 2-5). The IPL, however, will be in full swing during those matches, and New Zealand Cricket are in discussions with their players' representatives to allow dispensation for the five affected men to arrive in time for the final warm-up fixture against England Lions, which starts on May 8, a week before the Lord's Test.

"It's a New Zealand Cricket decision and we have to abide by that, no matter which way it goes," said Vettori. "They have asked us our views, and they have asked the team's views. Obviously with five of us involved, it'll set a different precedent than it would have with three, but we will work through it with Justin [Vaughan, the CEO] and whatever decision he comes to, we will abide by it."

There's little doubt, however, where Vettori's preferences lie. Having been signed up by the Delhi Daredevils franchise for a hefty US$625,000, he is understandably eager to play as many of the matches as possible. Realistically he and his team-mates could play in the first five or six rounds of the IPL, which begins on April 18, before joining the New Zealand squad in England in early May.

Vettori's argument is that New Zealand very rarely play warm-up matches on Test tours these days, and so it will make little difference to their preparations for England. What is more, if the senior players do sit out the early fixtures, it will provide an opportunity for younger players to be given invaluable experience of English conditions.

"I'm not really worried about how it looks. I'm worried about how it affects the team and the dynamic," said Vettori. "I know it'll be a huge opportunity for some young guys to be assimilated into a New Zealand side. Like I've said a couple of times, we go away on most tours and don't have any warm-up games. I don't think we can say that we all need to turn up all on the same day because that's the way it's supposed to be, because we don't do it on any other tour.

"The junior guys are comfortable either way," he added. "They're comfortable if we turn up late and they're equally happy if the whole team turns up together. I don't think the preparation side is an aspect, it's whether it fits for the team and the guys can handle it. If they can't, then we have to sit back and say maybe it's not the right thing. But if they can, then that's the way cricket is probably moving."

Mills, who learned of his IPL acquisition from his wife, Diana, who had been tracking the auction online, believed that the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best cricketers in the world was more than adequate compensation for missing the early part of the England tour.

Mills' Mohali franchise is coached by Tom Moody, who has huge experience of county cricket with Worcestershire, and also includes regular England foes, such as Brett Lee and Kumar Sangakkara." This will be a massive opportunity to pick Brett Lee's brains for three or four weeks on how to bowl in England," said Mills. "He was very effective against the Poms in England and in the Ashes last year, so I'll be picking up a few tips on how to get the Poms out. In terms of a cricketing education, the players I'll be playing with and against will be of huge benefit to me."

As to their possible late arrival, Mills was sure the players would adapt quickly. "That's the nature of international cricket over these past five years," he said. "You're playing 11 months of the year, always chopping and changing from Twenty20s to one-dayers to Test cricket. I played a domestic one-dayer three days out from the last Test in Hamilton. So that's the nature of professional cricket these days, we've all got to adapt quickly. We've all got experience of England before, so the transition shouldn't be too hard."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo