New Zealand news March 30, 2012

Wagner unsure when he can play for New Zealand

ESPNcricinfo staff

Neil Wagner, the South African-born Otago left-arm fast bowler, may not be eligible to play for New Zealand from next month as he previously believed. Wagner has completed four seasons with Otago but two factors may stand in the way of his gaining eligibility before New Zealand's tour of West Indies in June. The first is that the ICC requires a player to live in a country for four years, not for four cricket seasons, to play for that country - Wagner started playing in New Zealand in November 2008. The second is that the player has to spend 183 consecutive days in the country in each of the four years. Wagner has had two short trips out of New Zealand in his time there: a six-day trip back to South Africa in December 2008 to attend his brother's wedding and a trip to India with Otago for the Champions League T20 in October 2009.

Wagner said he hoped the holiday in South Africa would not affect his gaining eligibility since he had still spent 183 days in New Zealand that year. "I was 100% under the impression it would be okay," Wagner said. "They said I could go back for family reasons and if I still spent 183 days in the year in the country then I would be fine.

"I can't see how they think the Champions League trip would be a problem because it's the reason you are here and work is taking you out of the country. Hopefully they will overlook that one. The other factor I heard was it was four years and not four seasons. I have no idea."

New Zealand Cricket has said it will seek clarification from the ICC while national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said the team wanted to have Wagner available as soon as possible. Wagner's inclusion in the New Zealand team has been highly anticipated after two prolific seasons on the domestic circuit. In the 2010-11 season, he was named the most valuable player of the Plunket Shield, after taking 51 wickets in nine games in the competition, including a record five wickets in one over, against Wellington. This season, he topped the wicket-takers' list again, with 46 wickets in 10 games.

Wagner said being unsure of when he could play for New Zealand was stressful but he would not give up on it. "It's not in my hands. You just have to sit, be patient, and wait and listen. It's not easy, I'm not going to lie, because it's been a long wait. You build your hopes up and look forward to this and build your whole season around it.

"It's pretty stressful and plays on your nerves. I will be patient and not try to work myself up too much about it. I can honestly say I'm not giving up. Although it has meant I might have to wait longer, that's what I will have to do. I won't turn my back on New Zealand or Otago cricket because they have been good to me."

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

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