Confusion over the coming season March 13, 2008

ICL-county situation as clear as mud

With the English county season a little over a month away many teams are struggling to find out if they will have the services of some key players as the impact of the Indian Cricket League hits home. It is a minefield of regulations and the situations are constantly changing, but here Cricinfo gives an outline of the current state of play

Yasir Arafat and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan lift Mushtaq Ahmed on thier shoulders after Sussex's Championship win in 2006 ... but he seems unlikely to return in 2008 © Getty Images
Overseas Shane Bond (Hampshire), Mushtaq Ahmed (Sussex), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Yorkshire), Jason Gillespie (Glamorgan)

These players are looking extremely unlikely to be able to take up their respective county deals because of the No Obligation Certificates (NOC) they require from their home boards. Pakistan have already said they won't issue any to players who have appeared in the ICL and are expected to withdraw Mushtaq Ahmed's which was issued on February 7. Bond has split with New Zealand who are refusing to issue an NOC while a similar situation surrounds Gillespie even though he recently retired from state cricket in Australia. However, the players' associations in Australia and New Zealand have been the most vocal in criticising the ECB's stance.

Kolpaks - clear to play Dale Benkenstein (Durham), Nicky Boje, Andrew Hall, Lance Klusener, Johan van der Wath (Northants)

As Kolpak signings are effectively playing as locals they don't require NOCs and are therefore free to play both the ICL and county season, at least for this year. As they all had current contracts with counties and signed for the ICL before the ECB made their stance, no action will be taken against them. However, this may change if they play ICL ahead of the 2009 county season when their new registrations could then be turned down.

Kolpaks - facing problems Wavell Hinds (Derbyshire), Justin Kemp (Kent)

Although Hinds and Kemp are are Kolpak players because they have played first-class cricket in another country in the last 12 months and are new county signings (ie weren't involved in 2007) they are likely to hit a stumbling block over registrations. Both Derbyshire and Kent are preparing for the possibility of losing them.

British citizenship players Azhar Mahmood (Kent), Saqlain Mushtaq (Surrey), Stuart Law (Lancashire)

These players have the right to play county cricket as non-overseas players after qualifying through marriage and gaining citizenship. All three appear to be safe for this season because they were already registered with the ECB, but will face problems in 2009 if they continue to play ICL.

Stuart Law lifts the trophy after Chennai Superstars's win in the inugural ICL tournament © Getty Images
EU passports Nic Pothas (Hampshire), Hamish Marshall (Gloucestershire)

Pothas is currently in a category of his own because of a quirk of fate over his English qualification. His application has yet to be rubber-stamped by the ECB which means, because of his Greek passport, he is neither an overseas player or a Kolpak. However, he signed for Delhi when the risks were already known which could cause him problems after he turned out in the current ICL event. Marshall, who has a Gloucestershire contract after turning his back on New Zealand, played in the November ICL tournament, but Gloucestershire have confirmed he is with them for pre-season and won't be playing in the current set of matches so won't be affected unless he plays ICL again in the future.

England players Darren Maddy (Warwickshire), Vikram Solanki (Worcestershire), Chris Read (Nottinghamshire), Paul Nixon (Leicestershire)

All four were recent England players when they played in November but joined the ICL with the agreement of their counties. Their country futures are secure unless they opt to return to India, which Maddy, Solanki and Read have said they won't do while there is a risk. Nixon's situation is not so clear and there are rumours he wants to play more ICL. The recent ECB statements have said that retrospective action won't be taken so future international selection is a possibility but it remains to be seen how realistic that is. Maddy and Nixon were unlikely to get another crack, Solanki is on the periphery and Read has been pushed aside.

Other internationals Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Niall O'Brien (Northants)

Both the Ireland internationals signed for the first tournament but won't face the same pressures as their England counterparts. O'Brien has already played for Ireland again, in the recent Intercontinental Cup match against UAE, and Cricket Ireland have admitted they don't have the financial power to prevent the players joining ICL despite their reservations. Rankin is currently recovering from injury and preparing for the county season with Warwickshire.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo