Dubai: The Indian Cricket League is perhaps the worst thing to have hit New Zealand cricket in recent years. The Black Caps lost some of their top players to the rebel series sponsored by Indian media giants Zee and the New Zealand board was forced to revoke the contracts of the players who had defected to the league.
Kiwi paceman Shane Bond, Hamish Marshall and Daryl Tuffey signed up for the ICL before calling time on their New Zealand careers, while Andre Adams penned a deal with the Twenty20 series after falling out with the national selectors. But perhaps the biggest loss was felt in the batting department, where many will agree the void created by Lou Vincent's departure still exists.
The Auckland-born star enjoyed a sensational Test debut in the summer of 2001-02. A little later arrived his first Test double century, a magnificent 224 against Sri Lanka. A string of excellent performances made him a New Zealand regular, but shortly after his form hit the ceiling inconsistency began to set in his game. A disappointing Champions Trophy show forced the NZ board to overlook him for the home Test and ODI series against Sri Lanka. He was picked for the 2007 World Cup, but his tournament ended in heartbreak as he was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of a broken wrist. Later, Vincent even admitted to suffering from depression. He was dropped from the tour of Bangladesh and witnessed his NZ contract being revoked for joining the rebel ICL series.
But in a chat with Gulf News, Vincent reveals how he has put the past behind and is now fully focused on the future.
Gulf News: Do you think the ICL will ever get the sanction of the International Cricket Council?
Vincent: More players joining the Indian Cricket League might put more pressure on the International Cricket Council to sanction the ICL in the future. Cricket is a game and it shouldn't be ruled by anyone ... We'll see what happens and who calls what shots.
The Sri Lanka Cricket Board recently lifted the ban it had imposed on its players who were part of the ICL. What's your opinion on the matter?
I think it is powerful for an Asian country to come out and say and do something like that. In the cricketing world, NZ is only a small country, but if the ICL players can play in the UK, maybe in a few years it'll all just fall into place.
Do you feel the boards are a bit too harsh in imposing lengthy bans on the players who sign up for the ICL?
I think they've got to be strict and enforce the rules of international cricket and the ICC... but who knows what's going to happen in the future. I think some of the Bangladesh players have been slapped with a ban by their board for signing up with the ICL recently.
The New Zealand Cricket ban virtually killed your international cricketing career, didn't it?
I made the decision that I had achieved everything I had to achieve with New Zealand. The ICL gave me the opportunity to go to India. I think I would have ended my career a few months later anyway.
How exciting was the inaugural ICL season?
Well, I've seen a lot of talent in the ICL. And if Indian cricket wants to be the power of world cricket and knock off Australia, I think they've got some very good cricketers in the ICL. I was totally impressed with the ICL.. they had everything: fitness trainers and coaching staff working pretty hard. I think over the next three years, the ICL will run its course and we'll see what happens after that.
What impact will the Twenty20 version have on other forms of the game?
The Twenty20 form has revolutionised all cricket and it will reduce the number of Tests and ODI cricket in the future.
You admitted suffering from depression. What do you think caused it?
For me, it was a combination of events both on and off the field. I guess it's hereditary as well. It took time to realise something wasn't right and I finally realised it was time to quit cricket and move on. Every now and then we come across people in our lives who are suffering from some sort of stress. It's a horrible thing for anyone to go through. I'm on top of it at the moment ... It's important to write down some goals. The world we live in has so many things thrown at us and I think, if you've got goals, you can overcome that.
England's Marcus Trescothick admitted in the past to suffering from depression. Have you had a chance to speak to him about it?
I haven't really had a chance to speak with him, but we had a famous rugby player called John Kirwan who was the first sporting icon in the early 2000s to come out and say this is what is happening. I had a few good chats with him. If I can help people who have got it then that's my motivation now.
Who do you think will win the forthcoming India vs Australia series?
I think it's going to be an exciting Test series because either side can win. It's hard to put a score line on it, but I'd say it will be India.
Where do you see cricket in the UAE going with new stadiums that are being built?
I think a cricket stadium at Dubai Sports City is a magnificent achievement for the UAE and I'm sure there will be a few exciting games here in the future. With cricket changing to the Twenty20 format, it would be nice to host a tournament here.
Finally, do you think you'll ever play for the Black Caps again?
At this stage it is way out of my mind. I didn't consider it because we're not allowed to play. I made a decision to retire from international cricket last year. In a couple of years' time if things change then I'm sure there'll be opportunities to play again.