Cricket: NZ Cricket concedes greater contract flexibility needed to stop player Twenty20 league drain

New Zealand Cricket has had to admit flexibility will be essential if they want to avoid losing some of their biggest names for good.

In the last year, several Blackcaps have opted out of their central contracts for freelance life, most notably Trent Boult.

On Thursday, that somewhat changed, with Boult offered a casual playing agreement, meaning he'll be available in the lead-up to, and most likely for, this year's World Cup.

Devon Conway playing for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.
Devon Conway playing for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. Photo credit: Getty Images

That sort of approach may be needed in future.

It's been almost seven months since Boult last wore the black cap, but it won't be long until he's back.

"He's one of the best ODI bowlers in the world," said Blackcaps coach Gary Stead. "Barring injury, I think it's highly likely that he would be part of the squad for that World Cup."

New Zealand Cricket's reached a new deal with the veteran swing bowler after he opted out of his central contract last year

Boult's not on the list of centrally contracted players NZC announced today as he won't be available during their biggest commercial window of December to March.

However, signing a casual playing agreement allows him, and potentially others down the track, greater flexibility.

"It's just a matter of working with each player around when there's a clash, and when there's not a clash, what works for them and for us," said NZ Cricket's general manager of high-performance Bryan Stronach said. 

Martin Guptill playing for Melbourne Renegades in Australia's Big Bash.
Martin Guptill playing for Melbourne Renegades in Australia's Big Bash. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's something we've had as part of our contracting process a lot, and for a number of years.

"It's just now how we're implementing it."

New Zealand Cricket acknowledges there's got to be a bit of give and take if they're to keep players here.

"The flexibility, I think, is a cornerstone of what we do and recognising some of those older guys getting to the back end of their careers.

"They can command amazing amounts of money, and why wouldn't they?"

But New Zealand Players Association boss Heath Mills is adamant it won't set a dangerous precedent.

"I don't think we'll see a lot of players in the casual playing situation," he told Newshub.

"Players want to be here, and they want to play for New Zealand. To get the opportunity to play in these T20 leagues, you really need to be doing well on the international stage.

"So there's enough of a carrot, but it's evolving." 

But Mills concedes a congested global calendar doesn't help.

"The ICC and the boards really need to focus on the playing schedule and get some better structure to that if we don't want to see players picking and choosing where they want to play.

"We're always having conversations with the ICC, and member boards about the playing schedule."

The future of players representing their countries could well depend on it.