Larsen: No foreigners please

Christchurch: This time last year there was a huge storm brewing around New Zealand cricket. England fast bowler James Anderson was pulled out of the touring squad and sent off to play for Auckland in the New Zealand State Championship.

Anderson’s induction in the Auckland side led to a lot of criticism from other states and one of the most strongest of them all was former New Zealand all-rounder Gavin Larsen.

Now the CEO of Cricket Wellington, Larsen was livid with the move and publicly spoke against it. Now a similar situation has occurred this time around with India’s Test specialists being allowed to play New Zealand’s domestic cricket. But Larsen is decidedly quiet this time around and welcomes the move to let Lakshmipathy Balaji play a round for Wellington Firebirds.

Why the change of stance now? “They are very different set of circumstances. The episode last year was about one of our major associations making an in-house decision about dragging a guy out of a touring squad and make him for them. This despite knowing fully well that he would be playing against our Black Caps,” Larsen told

Larsen went onto convincingly argue that this time around it was all about New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) working together to find time to stage a third Test.

“These are very different set of circumstances because both sides were trying to deconstruct an itinerary that was already in place. In the end it was a win-win situation for all parties, particularly for New Zealand cricket because we get three Tests,” said Larsen.

The re-worked itinerary meant there was no way India could play a warm-up game and so a unique situation developed. “There was no ability to pull together a true warm-up game against a major association or a President’s XI or the such.

So a compromise had to be found and lot of water flowed under the bridge. We talked about it long and hard at Wellington amongst myself and my board. We realised that it was a one-off and I stress it was a one-off.”

Despite, being impressed by meeting up with the ‘marvellous Balaji’ and finding out that he has fitted in really well, Larsen is still not convinced that this could be a prototype for future tours.

“We don’t relish the idea of having a touring team in a domestic competition. It is fundamentally wrong. The flipside is I hope Balaji takes wickets. But if a James Anderson kind of situation was emerge my view would still be the same.”

Larsen believes that this was an important view because the integrity of Test and ODI format need to be maintained. ”The competitive and combative nature of international cricket needs to be there.

We want to beat India and India want to beat us. We as major association should do everything to help our Black Caps to win games. Not allowing Anderson type situations is one such aspect,” opined Larsen.

The flipside of the whole debate is that increasingly T20 domestic teams are feeling the need to have international players in their squads. New Zealand wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum played for Australian state side New South Wales in just the domestic T20 final and helped them win it.

Larsen that could be a route even New Zealand state sides could take in the future. “T20 is an amazing format where do want international players. The conversation here is whether we should have more overseas players to add to the current quota of one overseas and one qualifying player. Already there is talk that we should look to expand it to two or three overseas players.”

The reasoning is simple for Larsen and it has all got to do with the marketing aspect of it. “It is about marketing and promotion, getting people to the ground. And if we get admitted to the Champions League we need to have our strongest team on the park.

Something that happened when Brendon McCullum played in Australia. We cannot afford to be pulling behind or else IPL teams will keep having an upper hand,” admiited Larsen.

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