The Ashes 2009 March 18, 2009

Miller could block Australians in counties

Cricinfo staff

England's national selector, Geoff Miller, is considering blocking Australians from playing in county cricket ahead of future Ashes contests, following Kent's signing of Stuart Clark.

Clark officially joined the club today, a move which provides him with essential match practice ahead of the Ashes following surgery on his elbow. The decision by counties to employ Australians ahead of the Ashes has angered senior England officials, and although Miller is aware he can't do anything to prevent Clark and Phillip Hughes - who signed for Middlesex - from playing county cricket this summer, he is keen to prevent it from happening in future series.

"I haven't spoken to counties about this in the past, but it is certainly something I may do now," Miller told PA. "I have talked to chairmen, directors of cricket and I've tried to close that gap - we want to work together. I think we can request to counties but we, as England, can't control how the counties run their affairs. What I've tried to do constantly is close the gap between England and the counties so we can work together on this and I just don't see this as a working-together process."

In addition, Miller admitted his frustration that very few England players have played state cricket in Australia, a fact which is unlikely to change before the next Ashes series in 2010-11.

"I know full well there would be no reciprocal arrangement for us to go and play in Australia at any stage, never mind in an Ashes year," Miller said. "I can see this from a counties' point of view but it doesn't help the England cause one iota."

Hugh Morris, the England managing director, told the BBC that the decision by Kent to sign Clark "has been met with dismay throughout the game", adding: "Of course, it is up to Kent which players they sign but it is an incredibly busy and important year for cricket in England and we wish to give the team every chance of regaining the Ashes."