Future development for New Zealand cricket
I love all forms of cricket, particularly the Test match variety. I am a loyal Australian but I want most of all to see a close contest between two teams with both bat and ball.
For example, few would argue that the 2005 Ashes series was much better than the 2007 whitewash. My ideal Test match would end in the middle session of the fifth day with a close result (with Australia winning of course).
Australian cricket has benefited from having the strongest domestic cricket competition in the world. The Sheffield Shield is a tough competition and prepares players for the even tougher environment that is international cricket.
When Australian cricketers step up to Test level they are, mostly, ready for it.
An often heard lament in New Zealand cricket circles is that the gap between domestic cricket and Test cricket is just too wide for all but the best players to cross. This is true both technically but also in the mental side of the game.
There have been many players who have made the leap, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor recently and the likes of Hadlee and Crowe going back a few years. But it seems you have to be top class and world class to make it.
Many other promising young players with great potential have just been chewed up and spat out of the international scene before they have even had a chance. Just like the wicket at the Bellerive Oval, they are too green and under-prepared.
New Zealand cricket has missed a golden opportunity in not joining the Big Bash League. Three teams, i.e. Northern, Central and Southern could have been formed with the emphasis on young local players, playing alongside a couple of senior New Zealand and international stars.
Think of the potential for player development and just look at the player development India has reaped from the IPL.
New Zealand cricket has also missed out on the financial benefits of Twenty20 cricket. I just cannot see the critical mass for the emergence of a New Zealand Premier League. And whist I wish them luck and great success, I cannot see the USA League taking off either.
There are plenty of examples from other sports of domestic competitions joining together to make their games better. For instance Super Rugby and the UEFA Champions League.
Another great example is the ANZ Netball Championship. In netball, the two most dominant nations have joined together and taken their sport to a whole new level. You only have to watch these games to see just how tough this competition is.
Perhaps there is still the opportunity for teams from New Zealand to join the Big Bash League? Who knows where the T20 game will be in a few years time, given the changing nature of cricket.
If New Zealand teams were to join the Australian competition, then perhaps this would lead to them also joining the Sheffield Shield.
Again three teams would seem about right to me. This of course should not replace the district competition in NZ. It should be a stepping stone for those young players with potential (and there are plenty of them) to develop their game.
To make the step from amateur to professional. To make the step from domestic to Test level.
Australians love nothing more than to beat up their little brothers from across the ditch. And New Zealanders enjoying sticking it to their Aussie big brothers too.
But unlike other international examples, the rivalry has usually been a well natured one. Perhaps it is time to show some brotherly love and follow the compelling example of our netballing sisters.
The Ashes journey begins
The Australian cricket team have left Australia to begin their tour of England, with a mission to reclaim the Ashes.
Australian captain Michael Clarke and his teammates were optimistic about their chances before jetting off.
Click here to hear the thoughts of our Australian cricket team as they left for England.
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