Indian Cricket League players barred from county cricketFebruary 28th, 2008 - 11:37 pm ICT by admin
London, Feb 28 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has decided to bar cricketers appearing in the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) from taking on contracts as overseas players in county cricket. ECB’s move Wednesday will force Yorkshire, Hampshire and Sussex to have a re-look at their summer plans.
The ECB decision will also hit the ICL hard as it struggles to keep pace with the International Cricket Council (ICC)-authorised Indian Premier League (IPL).
The ECB in a statement said it was “determined to disassociate and distance itself from any promoter, agent or individual involved in such events”.
The move will affect Pakistani fast bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who was to turn out for Yorkshire, and New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond, who was to join Hampshire.
Even Mushtaq Ahmed, virtually a Sussex citizen after five years with the club, may find himself in the cold unless he can wriggle out of his ICL contract.
The ECB, after taking legal advice, seems to be on a firm wicket and can reject these players on the grounds that they need a “No Objection Certificate” from their respective boards to qualify to play county cricket.
The boards are highly unlikely to entertain any such requests from the players signing with the ICL because every Test-playing country has accepted the BCCI’s fiat that the ICL is an unauthorised venture.
The BCCI, which has earned $1 million from selling IPL franchises and broadcasting rights, is out to stub out rivals from the Twenty20 business.
British media reports suggested that teams having ICL players are threatened with exclusion from the domestic Champions Twenty20 League in October, and it has also been rumoured that India’s national team could refuse to play any country that refuses to fall in line.
According to a report in the The Telegraph, at a meeting of the county chief executives Tuesday, it was suggested that if England did not comply, the IPL - whose season extends this year from April 18 to June 1 - might come along in future with irresistible offers for the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen. In other words, this is a quid-pro-quo arrangement in which opposition to the rebel league is the price of immunity from the IPL.
“It seems bizarre that county cricket should be affected by a political row in India,” said Kent chief executive Paul Millman. “We’re about to start the season and suddenly some counties will have to reconsider deals struck some time back. It would have been good if a line could have been drawn, and any agreements made in good faith before that left alone. I don’t think you should abandon contracts on a whim. But this is a complex situation.”
Four English players - Paul Nixon, Chris Read, Vikram Solanki and Darren Maddy - participated in last October’s inaugural ICL tournament, which was held near Chandigarh. The four should all be exempt from the ban as long as they do not return this autumn. The same dilemma may be particularly acute for Stuart Law, Lancashire’s new captain.
The ECB may add further protection for county cricket by introducing 12-month contracts for all clubs, thus supplying players with income during the winter, but at the same time introducing clauses that prohibit them from signing with unauthorised tournaments.
While the counties will be concerned about these developments, many clubs will also be relieved that the ECB’s plans to exclude ICL players do not apply to Kolpak signings. That was the impression many chief executives had after Tuesday’s meeting and this would have affected clubs such as Northamptonshire, who have four South Africans involved with the ICL.
Yet one agent working with the ICL said he expected the campaign against its players to intensify. “There’s been a lot of activity over the last few days but at the end of it all, only a handful of players will be affected by this ruling. I have a feeling that the ECB are not finished with this one yet.”
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