Cricket Wars

Players face bans if they take part in Cricket Wars

Martin Williamson

February 12, 2013

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The controversial Cricket Wars tournament is launched, Nairobi Gymkhana, February 11, 2013
The controversial Cricket Wars tournament is launched in Nairobi but it remains uncertain it will go ahead © Facebook
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Players who take part in the unofficial Cricket Wars tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Nairobi over three days starting on Friday (February 15), face a lengthy ban from the game after Cricket Kenya confirmed its decision not to give its approval to the event.

Reports in the local media suggested that the Ministry of Youth and Sports had brokered a deal after calling a meeting between organisers and CK but this was denied by a board spokesman who said there remained questions as to the finances behind the venture and CK unanimously voted not to give its approval. This stance has been backed by all the country's provincial boards.

As a consequence of this, no overseas players, past or present, will be permitted to participate. If they do then the ICC has made clear that they will be in contravention of its own regulations and are likely to face hefty sanctions including bans of at least one year. The same applies to all local players and officials.

High-profile names such as Andrew Symonds, Damien Martyn, Ian Harvey and Chris Cairns are believed to have obtained NOCs, which allow them to play overseas, from their own boards but it is not clear if those boards or individuals were aware the tournament had not been sanction by CK. ESPNcricinfo understands the ICC is writing to all boards to advise them that Cricket Wars is an unapproved event, something that seems likely to lead to the withdrawal of the NOCs.

Although the organisers have said that Muttiah Muralitharan is one of the players taking part, ESPNcricinfo has learned that he received an invitation earlier in the month which he declined.

The Cricket Wars organisers, who include former KCA boss Sharad Ghai, claim that former players do not need any approval to play in such events but the ICC has confirmed this is not the case.

Local cricketers will make up the numbers, and even those who are paid are unlikely to earn more than $50, but will also face sanctions if they take part. While for club cricketers these punishments are unlikely to be serious, centrally-contracted national players face fines and/or suspensions. The Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association has made clear that the priority for local players is to participate in this weekend's knock-out tournament.

It is also possible the Nairobi Gymkhana club, which is hosting the competition, will face punishment if it goes ahead. CK is understood to have written to club officials last month to raise concerns that they should not stage a non-approved event but that was met with a response that as a private club what games they ran was of no concern to the national board. However, the board has it within its power to withhold grants and not stage official matches there.

Concerns have also been expressed at the details of the money likely to be paid over from the event to a local charity. ESPNcricinfo has learned that while it is being flagged proceeds would go to the Children's Village in Naivasha, in fact only an undisclosed percentage of the gate money will be paid over.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by johnathonjosephs on (February 13, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

Tournaments like these are what cricket needs to gain support around the world and spread. I hope this issue can be fixed... The name of the tournament itself is intriguing enough for me

Posted by c_Marsh_b_Lillee on (February 13, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

When the ICC or its national Boards of Control sanction a cricket match or tournament, it does not mean that they have recognised that it will benefit the players, the local economy or help develop the game in that region. It simply means that the event's organisers have agreed to channel profits back to the ICC and its local administrators. The monopoly that the ICC has on world cricket must not be challenged, or those involved will face heavy sanctions. Alternative leagues will not be tolerated. The ICC gravy train must continue to be paid for.

Posted by Juna79 on (February 12, 2013, 13:50 GMT)

I dont know why the organizers aren't following ICC rules. This is a fantastic idea, and will definitely bring people to the grounds. Why not work together with CK instead of fighting. Its an ego thing.

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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