So “Mitchell McClenaghan has been released from his New Zealand Cricket central contract in order to pursue a pathway in overseas T20 leagues”. It is the second part of that sentence that sends chills up the collective spine of the average New Zealand cricket fan.
But should we be worried?
In isolation this is not really a big deal. McClenaghan had become a peripheral figure in New Zealand sides after the 2015 World Cup, and in the changing face of world cricket a central contract is probably better allocated to someone with more of a future in all forms of the game.
As summed up by someone who knows a bit about T20 leagues.
Is it worrying.? A few T20’s and 5 ODI’s in the last 2 years for NZ.! Team may have moved on. Good call from both parties I think.
— Simon Doull (@Sdoull) August 29, 2017
These are fast changing times. The IPL is now 10 years old. There are currently also the Australian, Caribbean, English, Pakistan / Bangladesh leagues. And now, when November seemed like a break in it all, let’s welcome in the South African Big Braai. Then there is the NZ based revolving USA burger chain sponsored affair
It is now quite possible for a T20 specialist to play for a lot of months during the year.
Heath Mills, head of the players’ Association, has repeatedly said that the thing that retains players is the lure of test cricket. The fact that form of the game needs context in terms of a world championship ladder is too obvious to reinforce.
But it is interesting that this cutting of ties is from a cricketer is someone who has never played test cricket, and was never likely to. To use the inevitable rugby analogy, this is not a current All Black heading off to France, this is a player making the most of his future when his international future was starting to wane.
It makes sense for New Zealand Cricket too; releasing a central contract spot to a fast bowler with more years ahead of him
Other fringe cricketers, whose main attraction is in the T20 game, are likely to follow this route in the future. And there is at least one current contracted player who has mused openly about such a move. Let’s hope that, for example, a developing leg spinner does not follow suit in the near future.
It’s when that lure also affects those playing test cricket that the worry arrow moves to the right. Nobody really knows how this will play out in the long term.