Christchurch:A major crisis in New Zealand cricket was averted when six of the country's leading players agreed to sign new contracts with the cricket board, but only after they were assured of playing a major part of the Indian Premier League, newspaper report said here on Saturday.
Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor, who were among the 20 players who signed contracts with NZC on Friday, can play in the IPL for at least three weeks as Australia's Test tour of New Zealand has been cut short to two matches from three.
The move will also benefit the Australians contracted to the franchisees for the March 12 to April 25 IPL-III, Dominion Post reported.
It also means that McCullum can still earn USD 350,000 for playing three weeks in the IPL.
"A crisis was averted after a draft copy of the schedule showed stumps will be pulled on March 31, effectively turning the traditional end-of-summer six-week tour into a furious month-long experience comprising just two Tests," the newspaper said.
"The first Test will be held at Basin Reserve in Wellington from March 19-23 and the second in Hamilton from March 27-31. After that, the star players will high-tail it to India to play the final three weeks of the six-week IPL," the report said.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justine Vaughan refused to admit that Test cricket has been sacrificed by this move but said it was difficult to spin the schedule around.
"This summer we have three home Tests against Pakistan and Tests against Bangladesh. We are not going to be short of Test cricket, but I agree three Tests against Aussie is what you aim for.
"This year we get the squeeze. Hopefully, it is a one-off aberration, we'd hate to see the IPL move into March on a regular basis," Vaughan said.
Australia are hosting the West Indies until February 23 while the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies starts from April 28.
With the IPL scheduled between March 12 and April 25, New Zealand were only left with the month of March to host Australia.