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Dykes Defends McCullum's Trans-Tasman Shuffle

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Dykes Defends McCullum's Trans-Tasman Shuffle

Wellington, Jan 22 NZPA - The golden tentacles of Indian Twenty20 cricket have reached the New Zealand domestic game, with Otago wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum released to play for New South Wales this weekend.

In an unprecedented move, hard-hitting New Zealand gloveman McCullum will contest the final of the Australian Twenty20 championship against either Queensland or Victoria on Saturday night.

By reaching the final, NSW have already qualified for the lucrative Indian Champions League in October and McCullum will therefore be guaranteed a place in that event.

The 27-year-old may yet qualify for the Champions League through his Indian Premier League (IPL) team, the Kolkata Knight Riders.

McCullum's trans-Tasman hop means he is unavailable for Otago's important State Shield final round-robin match against Wellington in Invercargill on Sunday.

Second-placed Otago are already guaranteed a place in the State Shield semifinal but victory would ensure it is a home match.

They could yet be passed by third-placed Canterbury and be forced to play the semi in Christchurch.

Otago Cricket chief executive Ross Dykes' had no qualms with McCullum's hasty proposal -- which was put to him just yesterday -- believing it will be good for the player and Otago.

His reaction was in sharp contrast to that of Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds, who described the selection of a New Zealander in an Australian domestic team at the expense of a local as being "un-Australian".

"It goes against the spirit of being Australian," Symonds told the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper.

Symonds said if he were the local who missed a spot due to McCullum's selection, " I would be absolutely spewing".

Dykes was relaxed above the move.

"It's an opportunity for Brendon to promote himself," he told NZPA.

"If Brendon promotes himself, so do Otago benefit. We've found that over the last 18 months."

McCullum thumped 170 to set up victory in last year's shield final against Auckland and two months later hammered 158 off 73 balls to kick-start the inaugural IPL.

Dykes believed McCullum's move could set a precedent, with other top players possibly being sought for overseas domestic Twenty20 teams seeking places in the rich Champions League.

His main regret was that the cricket fraternity in Invercargill are being denied a world-class performer.

"The game's being played in Invercargill and they've gone to a fair bit of trouble to promote it as best they can," he told NZPA.

"To take away one of the stars is going to be a detraction so it wasn't a clear-cut decision.

"But the over-riding consideration was how best we prepare for a semifinal, whether it's a home or away one.

"We've played enough cricket over the last year and half to know that we can still win games without Brendon."

McCullum and middle order batsman Neil Broom will not be available for the semifinal or final as they will be on national duty in Australia so Dykes said this weekend was a good opportunity to blood their replacements.

Otago coach Mike Hesson and captain Craig Cumming were involved in the decision to release McCullum.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan also supported the Otago decision.

"There is much potential upside with Brendon having a guaranteed spot in the Champions League," Vaughan said in a statement.

"I support Otago's view that they should make all sensible preparations to win through the semi and final of the State Shield without both Brendon and Neil Broom."

Cricket NSW chief executive David Gilbert was delighted to have landed a big fish for the final and the Champions League.

"Cricket NSW is thrilled to have secured the services of Brendon McCullum," Gilbert said.

"With the potential losses the NSW squad may suffer depending on which two IPL teams qualify for the Champions League, it is vital that we strengthen our squad ahead of that tournament.

"Brendon is one of the most dangerous limited overs batsman in world cricket and will be a tremendous asset to NSW in terms of his considerable international experience and the matchwinning ability he brings."

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