Players face one-year ban March 8, 2008

ECB cracks down on ICL recruits

Cricinfo staff

David Collier: 'The board stands ready to discuss the detail and impact of these steps with counties and individual players potentially affected' © Getty Images
England players face missing an entire summer if they choose to play for the Indian Cricket League, after the England Cricket Board tightened up regulation to prevent county players from signing up the unauthorised Indian Cricket League.

The board said that while any action would not be retrospective, any players who turn out in the ICL would be refused registration for a year. "A cricketer who has played in an unauthorised event in the 12 months leading up to 1 April in any given year will not qualify for registration," a spokesman said. Although the ECB did not mention the ICL by name, referring to "events which are not authorised by the ICC and its members" the implication is clear.

"Counties and the Professional Cricketers' Association have sought clarity concerning this complex situation," said the ECB chief executive, David Collier. "The [legal] advice received has informed the steps that the board has taken and the board stands ready to discuss the detail and impact of these steps with counties and individual players potentially affected."

The position with overseas players remains as before. The ECB maintains that such cricketers need a No Objection Certificate from the board of the country they are qualified to play Test cricket for, as per ICC instructions. "Without an NOC a cricketer is not entitled to registration," the spokesman said. "The ECB will not exercise its discretion in favour of a cricketer who has contracted with an unauthorised event, save in the most exceptional circumstances."

That means that players such as Mushtaq Ahmed (Sussex), Jason Gillespie (Glamorgan) and Shane Bond (Hampshire), who have all signed with the ICL, will be prevented from taking up their positions with their counties. Although the ECB statement implied that no action would be taken against such players "who are already registered with the ECB, and who have already contracted with an unauthorised event," without the NOC from their respective boards, they will be unable to proceed.

But what seems apparent is that Kolpak players fall through the net. They do not need registration as with England players, but nor do they need NOCs from their home boards. "Kolpaks still have to abide by the regulations as set out by ECB, same as any other cricketer," said an ECB spokesman. What that appears to mean is that it is relying on the counties to fall into line with the overall policy.