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18th of January 2018

New Zealand

Rippon forced to make his choice

Otago legspinner Michael Rippon's career has taken a sharp turn.

The South African-born player hopes to qualify for New Zealand but wanted to keep playing for the Dutch national side.

Something had to give and that something was international cricket, for now at least.

The 26-year-old switched allegiances 10 months ago when he signed a declaration of intent to qualify for New Zealand.

Until recently the left-armer could still play international cricket for the Netherlands as well, but a change to the eligibility laws in October meant Rippon had to choose between the two.

''There are two things which are quite key,'' Rippon said.

''The qualification time changed from four to three years ... and all associate nations have the same criteria as full members.

''So if I played for Holland tomorrow, I would have to wait another three years to qualify for New Zealand.

''I have not retired from playing for Holland but, with the new ruling, I can't really play.

''The end goal is to play for the Black Caps. I think you've always got to push for higher honours and keep challenging yourself.

''For me, that is the next step. I've got a two-year period to try to get myself up to that level.''

The Netherlands has some important World Cup qualification games coming up in March and Rippon would have loved to have been part of that campaign.

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills is critical of the change, which he believes is not in the best interests of the game.

''We don't think it has been well thought through if the goal is to strengthen world cricket and grow the associate countries,'' Mills said.

''All this is going to do is force players to go where they can get paid, which tends to be in the full member countries, and sacrifice playing for an associate member country.''

Rippon is sidelined at the moment. He fractured a bone in his right index finger during a one-day game earlier this month.

There were hopes he would be fit for Otago's twenty20 match against Northern Districts in Hamilton on Saturday. But the earliest he will be back is for the Boxing Day match against Canterbury at Molyneux Park in Alexandra.

Rippon, who made a big impact when he joined Otago last summer, said he was just starting to find his feet after being overlooked early on in the first-class competition.

He made a sparkling contribution with the bat in a one-dayer against Central Districts, smashing six sixes and three fours in a whirlwind innings of 61 from 37 deliveries.

He was injured in that game and has not played in the Super Smash so far this season.

Asked if he was looking forward to the challenge of bowling in the shortest format of the game, he responded by saying, ''You have to expect to be hit a bit.

''I'm glad they've reduced the bat size a bit, to be honest. But, at the end of the day, you are playing for the crowd and what they want to see is boundaries.''

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