Stephen Fleming open to idea of squad-sharing after Wellington and Melbourne ink agreement
Melbourne stars coach Stephen Fleming is hopeful that the understanding reached between the BBL franchise and his former side Wellington back home in New Zealand will blossom further into an arrangement which will see both the men’s and women’s team of both franchises sharing players between them.
While the current understanding only pertains to practice matches between the Melbourne Star’s men side and Wellington Firebirds as well as between the women’s side of the BBL franchise against Wellington Blaze, Fleming foresees an arrangement along the likes of the association between some of the major European-based football clubs who loan out some of their talented youngsters to ‘sister’ clubs.
Similar understandings in cricket have been rare with Hampshire’s deal with IPL side Rajasthan Royals in 2010 and the owners of Kolkata Knight Riders’ buying a premier stake in Carribean Premier League side Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel leading to the team being renamed Trinbago Knight Riders the only notable deals of such nature.
The former New Zealand skipper, whose association with Wellington where he played between 2000 and 2009 before retiring from the game was pivotal in clinching the deal between the two sides, however, wants the arrangement to be a more mutual one which will see clubs from New Zealand enjoy closer compatibility with their Trans-Tasman clubs.
"It seems logical if these relationships are developed, that the squads start sharing and probably more Australian players coming here," Fleming told stuff.co.nz on Wednesday. "There are opportunities, and I think you will see players coming over. That's the relationship we're looking at. Hopefully, that comes to fruition."
"Obviously with the Big Bash, there's growing popularity and one of our challenges is that the Australian calendar is filled with first-class and international matches," he added. "We have to get game time for players who aren't necessarily playing first-class for their states. We've been very keen to get games out here in New Zealand. We've got some great players who won't be playing (first-class), so to come and play Wellington in good conditions is just a great opportunity for us."
Fleming is hopeful that the agreement between Wellington and Melbourne will be a huge step in his aim of possibly seeing teams from New Zealand competing in the Big Bash League in the future. For now, though, he is eager to stamp his authority as a coach alongside former New Zealand teammate Daniel Vettori who will be coaching Brisbane Heat in the sixth edition of the BBL which begins on December 20.
"Certainly with my involvement, Daniel Vettori's (as head coach of Brisbane Heat), there is a strong New Zealand connection that's now involved with the management side of the Big Bash," he said.
Wellington Firebirds head coach Bruce Edgar is also looking forward to the agreement which will allow his side to compete against quality opposition ahead of New Zealand's own domestic T20 competition – the McDonald’s Super Smash – which will commence on December 4.
"We couldn't ask for better really," he said. "We're playing one T20, and then there is a gap, a window of about 11 days before the next T20. This is absolutely spot on because we would have been having centre-wicket training, simulation. But this is the real McCoy now, played at high intensity against high-quality opposition in a quality atmosphere.”