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March 14, 2008
Tony Greig, a member of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) executive board, believes court action will become inevitable if the English Cricket Board (ECB) decides to ban players appearing in the unofficial Twenty20 tournament.
"I don't see how the ECB will get away with what they're planning," he said. "It'll end up back where we were in 1977 - back in court. It will be tested - you can be assured of that."
Greig's statements came in the wake of the ECB's tough stance against 'unofficial events' and players involved with the ICL. "If you read the ECB statement, they say they're going to be robust on this issue. I'm trying to work out why," said Greig. "If players aren't required to play for their county for six months of the year, then why not play somewhere else? I thought it had been established 30 years ago that you can't stop players plying their trade. Players' rights have to be upheld. Governing bodies do not have the right to restrict players from plying their trade."
Chris Read, the Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper, said last week that he would take the ECB to court if his involvement in the ICL proves to bring an end to his England career. As confusions grow over ICL players, several English counties are concerned that certain players - Shane Bond, Jason Gillespie, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Mushtaq Ahmed, to name a few - may be unavailable to them if regulations outlined by the ECB last week prevent them from honouring their county contracts.
"The money is big here and [English players] know they're on good ground [legally]," Greig said. "I can't see how this is hurting English cricket. They're just pandering to India. How can guys like Paul Nixon do harm? They aren't needed by their county in the off season - they're not going to miss any county cricket by playing in the ICL. It's just pressure from India on the ECB."
Greig, a former England captain who sued the English cricket authorities for restraint of trade during the revolutionary Packer revolution, also warned that the manner in which the ICL and Indian Premier League (IPL) are being handled by the Indian board will make the other boards stand up against it.
"Top players from all over the world will quit international cricket to play in the IPL and the ICL, the boards will bleed, and the finger will be pointed at the BCCI," he said. "The Asian boards are in the BCCI's pocket. But what happens to New Zealand, South Africa, England, who are sure to feel the pinch."
"The BCCI is asking for a window from the ICC to host the matches. They may as well get it for now, but the schedules of the other countries will go for a toss. The way the BCCI is functioning right now, it doesn't seem that they are in the mood to compromise."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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