County news May 8, 2007

ECB block Harvey over citizenship

Cricinfo staff

Ian Harvey's season has been put on hold © Getty Images
The ECB has blocked Ian Harvey from playing as a non-overseas player because of a delay in the paperwork relating to his British Citizenship. His application is currently with the Home Office and legally he doesn't qualify until the final documents have been completed.

During the opening weeks of the season Harvey has been covering for the injured Travis Birt at Derbyshire, but now that Birt is ready to play Harvey will have to stand down until he is officially cleared. However, there was a similar situation with Ottis Gibson in 2004 when he was trying to join Leicestershire and the ECB allowed him to play despite his papers being stuck at the Home Office.

Tom Sears, the Derbyshire chief executive, told the club website: "We are extremely disappointed with the ECB's stance on this issue. Ian has played in this country since 1999, his wife is a British citizen, he has met all the criteria to qualify for British citizenship and completed the required fours years of residency.

"He submitted his application for citizenship at the earliest opportunity but the ECB is still not allowing him to play even though they have in a previous case."

The ECB has said that Gibson had to wait longer than Harvey which is why his case was treated differently but Derbyshire are not happy with what they see as double standards. "The Home Office have said that Ian is entitled to live and work in this country but the ECB are saying he can only play as one of our two overseas players until he gets his citizenship.

"The question I have asked of the ECB is if they can impose a limit on players given indefinite leave to remain, why can they not do the same with EU or Kolpak players? All these players have been told they have the right to work on this country but we can set limits on some and not others? It needs clarifying and sorting out quickly."

The club have said they will not be offering a legal challenge to the decision, which means that Harvey will remain on the sidelines for the near future. He has been in impressive form during early season with two centuries in the County Championship, where he currently averages 144.