Pakistan in firing line after issuing NOCs March 28, 2008

Indian board seeks answers over ICL rebels

Cricinfo staff

Niranjan Shah: 'We have an understanding with the other countries' boards that they can't allow players who are associated with the ICL to be allowed to play at any level' © Getty Images
The Indian board (BCCI) has told Cricinfo that it will be lodging a complaint with the ECB following confirmation that the PCB has issued No Objection Certificates to Mushtaq Ahmed and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, allowing them to play county cricket in 2008.

The two players are involved with the unauthorised Indian Cricket League and Niranjan Shah, the BCCI's secretary, told Cricinfo that "we have an understanding with the other countries' boards that they can't allow players who are associated with the ICL to be allowed to play at any level, regardless of the reason the player has a contract with his board or not.

"If the news is true that the two players have been given NOCs by the PCB then we will take up the issue with the ECB since the two counties - Sussex and Yorkshire - come under the jurisdiction of the England board."

The ECB, however, is legally powerless to take any action in the light of the NOCs being granted and is likely to pass the matter back to the Indian board to sort out directly with its Pakistan counterparts.

The situation is further muddied by confusion within the PCB about the issuing of an NOC to Naved-ul-Hasan. On Thursday, Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, told Reuters that "the factual position is that some counties had asked the PCB to issue NOC's for these players. But we've now informed them very clearly that since these players are not contracted to us nor eligible to play in Pakistan we don't come anywhere into this issue at all."

But less than a day later, Naghmi gave Cricinfo an altogether different picture. "Our board's policy on the ICL remains as it has always been and these players cannot play in Pakistan," he said. "But the board also felt that there is no legal or moral reason in stopping someone from playing cricket in another country. That is subject to their laws. So, on this basis, we have sent an NOC, which maybe wasn't as well-worded as planned, but the intention was made clear."

Stewart Regan, the Yorkshire chief executive, told Cricinfo that the NOC had in fact been received last week and was dated March 17. "We have a signed letter that is very clear in confirming they [the PCB] have no objection," he said. This was then sent to the ECB, along with the player's registration form, and was accepted by the board.

Today's news follows the revelations last week that the ECB had refused registrations for five players because of their participation in the ICL. But with Pakistan approving Mushtaq and Naved-ul-Hasan, and in so doing leaving the England board with no room for manoeuvre, there are certain to be some terse exchanges between the PCB and the BCCI in the coming days.