National contracts September 16, 2009

McCullum did not try to refuse contract - Vaughan

Cricinfo staff

Justin Vaughan, the New Zealand Cricket chief executive, has denied reports that Brendon McCullum tried to refuse his central contract in order to play the whole of the IPL in 2010 as a free agent. The denial follows comments by Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, in the Sydney Morning Herald that specifically mentioned McCullum wanting a change in his playing status.

Vaughan said there was no question of McCullum refusing his New Zealand contract and said that he, along with captain Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder, had just been given more time to sign. "There were never any discussions along the lines of refusing his contract," Vaughan told the New Zealand Herald. "That was never a possibility and, as far as I was aware, there was never any exploration of loopholes.

"At the time, the IPL dates were yet to be confirmed and neither were the Australian tour dates, so we did not know what sort of overlap there would be. They wanted some clarity over that before signing their contracts. We wanted players who were fully committed to New Zealand cricket so they were given extra time to sign."

The players signed their contracts only in late July after issues regarding the IPL and the team's international programme were clarified. They will now miss the beginning of the IPL next year to play the Test series against Australia. "The simple fact is they, including Brendon, all signed and that was a tremendous sign. There was no pressure from us and I don't believe there was any covert discussion between the players and the IPL either. They all wilfully signed."

The Sydney Morning Herald had quoted Lalit Modi as saying that McCullum had tried to exploit a "loophole" and "become a free agent" so that he could play for Kolkata Knight Riders through the Twenty20 league. Modi, however, said that the loophole "was closed" and a new amendment, which required international players without national contracts in addition to recently-retired players to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from their boards, was introduced.

Andrew Flintoff had refused the one-day contract offered to him by the ECB this week and became the first "freelance" cricketer. He is contracted to the Chennai Super Kings for $1.55 million and has clearance to play in the IPL in 2010 but his participation in 2011 will need an NOC from the ECB.

"The new amendment reads that international players need NOCs from their home boards 'for two years post-retirement/not in contract'," Modi was quoted as saying. "We want to ensure people continue to play for their countries. Nobody is going to budge on the NOC issue, it was designed so players do not try to become free agents.

"The intent was very clear, but now the rule is absolutely air-tight, players can't pick and choose whether to play for their countries," Modi said. "Flintoff must receive an NOC from the England board if he wants to play in the IPL, there is no question."