Financial pressure on NZC may affect Shield

Mike Coggan
Mike Coggan
More change is on the way and there will be resistance.

But the feud brewing between New Zealand Cricket and the six major associations has been overstated.

There is certainly tension, though.

NZC is under financial pressure. That has put a squeeze on resources and there is plenty of passionate discussion about where best to spend the available funds. Both parties appear to have different priorities.

But Otago Cricket Association chief executive Mike Coggan rejected suggestions a recent meeting with NZC representatives turned combative.

He acknowledged there was robust debate, as always.

"Certainly throughout my time at Otago Cricket, NZC and the MAs [major associations] have discussed ... what the best cricket delivery models are and the same is happening this year," he said in an email.

"The MAs will shortly commence work with NZC ... to look at the way that the game is positioned for the future, both from a delivery and funding perspective.

"This will include high-performance environments and community cricket."

Coggan did not elaborate on how that might impact on the structure of domestic cricket. But one of the pressure points has to be the Plunket Shield.

In financial terms, the tournament is a burden with a capital B. It takes money out of the kitty and then hocks off the pot.

Last summer, the Plunket Shield was pruned from 10 rounds to eight. Some of those savings were redirected into an expanded New Zealand A programme.

But while the first-class competition is expensive, it does have value. It still offers players the greatest test of their skills.

Former OCA chief executive Ross Dykes would be disappointed if it took another cut.

"The reason the Black Caps have been so strong in the last five to 10 years is because there is a strong domestic competition," Dykes said.

"We are now creating more players capable of playing international cricket than we have spaces.

"It is a tricky one, though. It is an expensive exercise when it does not generate any cash itself.

"But if needs must I can see how you could shrink that down. Whether that happens or not, I don't know.

"It is a delicate balancing act."

NZC chairman Greg Barclay told media earlier in the week the way domestic cricket was structured is no longer viable and it needed to be delivered better.

The major associations are likely to view that statement as an indication more funds are about to be siphoned off for the Black Caps or New Zealand A programmes.


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