23 Mar 2009

NZ cricketers relieved at IPL decision

10:18 pm on 23 March 2009

The New Zealand's Cricket Players Association is relieved India's lucrative Twenty20 tournament will be played outside the subcontinent this year due to security issues.

South Africa and England are among possible venues for the Indian Premier League tournament.

Indian cricket board (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar said the board had been forced to move the tournament abroad because the Indian government was not in a position to provide security due to upcoming elections.

Security concerns have dominated the build-up to the eight-team event after an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore earlier this month. Police and a bus driver died in the attack.

India remains tense after bomb blasts killed 166 people in the financial hub of Mumbai last November.

The BCCI failed to get clearance for security cover from the government, which said it would be difficult to spare security forces as they would be deployed for the the general election, to be held between 16 April and 13 May.

The New Zealand Cricket Players Association says security issues have been unnerving and it is relieved the IPL tournament will be played outside India.

At present, eight New Zealand cricketers are contracted to play for the IPL. They are: New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Stephen Fleming, Ross Taylor, Bendon McCullum, Kyle Mills and Jesse Ryder.

NZCPA executive director Heath Mills says the decision to move the competition was the right one.

"We were kind of surprised initially that it has been moved. Obviously, the Indian government are pretty adamant that they don't want it in that country while the elections are on and moving it to either South Africa or England is the right thing to make sure it goes ahead."

The IPL does not consult New Zealand Cricket with regard to security and the players' fears were never addressed, Mr Mills says.

"We've been concerned about the security arrangements for three or four months now and haven't had an ability to get alongside the IPL and understand what they're doing or get involved in the security check process."

Mr Mills says South Africa and England have proven they can successfully host a cricket tournament as large and popular as the IPL and moving the tournament to either country will help ease players' concerns.

He says there is no risk that players will not get paid despite financial losses the IPL might suffer by moving the tournament.

South Africa, England approached

The South Africa cricket board said it had received a request from the BCCI to be a possible host.

The England and Wales Cricket Board later released a similar statement, saying that at the request of the BCCI and the IPL it was "examining the feasibility of hosting the 2009 IPL in England and Wales".

League commissioner Lalit Modi said four possible venues were being considered to host the tournament. He said the 59-match event will be played on its original dates, between 10 April and 24 May, and is scheduled to return to India next season.

Indian officials said the huge financial implications and a tight international calendar had forced their hand. The World Twenty20 begins in England in early June.

India's sports minister, Manohar Singh Gill told Morning Report the country's elections had to be given priority over the cricket tournament.

Dr Singh Gill, who is visiting New Zealand, said his country is able to provide security for sporting events and the tournament will be held in India in future.