Australian players in county cricket ahead of the Ashes March 21, 2009

A storm before the series

ESPNcricinfo staff
Just about everyone had an opinion about Stuart Clark and Phillip Hughes getting used to English conditions in advance

"I believe Andrew Strauss was playing cricket in New Zealand just before he got picked back in their Test side, so what's the difference there? […] Look, it's going to be great for us. Obviously, right at the moment, the ECB don't have the power to overrule the counties or else it wouldn't have happened in the first place"
Ricky Ponting rubs it in

"What we are doing here is nothing more than bringing back to form a convalescing bowler in time for the Ashes. It's as simple as that. We are paying him out of the England coffers. I am getting emails and texts from friends in Australia who are laughing their heads off, saying only the English can do this.
David Lloyd has a "don't-you-see-what's-going-on-here" moment

""I can't believe it. if I don't know enough about the English players by now I may as well give it away […] I can't stop them from thinking what they are, but I couldn't care less. I know Kent want me so that's all I'm worried about.""
Stuart Clark says his piece

"The question as to whether or not an Australian player could legally challenge being blocked by the ECB from playing county cricket is complex. However, we'd hope it wouldn't come to this."
Paul Marsh, the Australian Cricketers' Association's chief executive looks ahead at a possible day in court

"I'm not sure what I'm expected to say. We have got a cricket season ahead of us for Kent and as far as we're concerned the issue is about what we need. There are no criteria set out about who we can and can't sign.
Paul Millman, Kent's chief executive, knows he's on solid ground

"It's very easy for the counties to be short-sighted and worry about their next championship game and season… From an England team's point of view it's important we all need to buy into the fact that an England team performing well helps everyone, including the counties."
Andrew Strauss brings out the country-over-county argument

"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."
Geoff Miller, England selector, thinks the counties are out of line again

"It's nice to hear them bleating this early, but we're still well and truly focused on the third Test in Cape Town this week.
Tim Nielsen, Australia's coach, thinks England have got a headstart on the whingeing

"If Australians want to play cricket in England in an Ashes summer let them have six weeks in the Lancashire leagues. They might call us whingeing poms, they always do. Too right mate. The idea of an England cricketer being helped out by an Australian state is frankly risible."
Stephen Brenkley points out in the Independent that the Australians would never return the favour

"I think the current row might be as a result of the management chaos in the England team. We don't have a permanent coach, and the team has performed badly ever since the Moores-Pietersen row. I think those are the issues the ECB should be concentrating on, rather than criticising counties who happen to employ Australians as overseas players.
Neil Davidson, Leicestershire chairman and Giles Clarke opponent, thinks the noise is a diversionary tactic

"I wouldn't sign an Australian before an Ashes series… We had a chance to sign an Australian allrounder but we chose not to do so. We have an obligation to English cricket."
David Smith, Leicestershire chief executive, isn't quite on the same page as his chairman

"Taking [Hughes] on is not ideal, but then neither is losing Owais Shah to the IPL. Perhaps there should be a moratorium on both."
Vinny Codrington, Middlesex chief executive, brings the IPL into the equation

"The five-day game needs to continually show the world just what magnificent sporting contests it can produce, and there is no bigger stage to prove this on than the Ashes. It is for this reason that I have little problem in Stuart Clark and Phillip Hughes, potential members of Australia's Ashes squad, playing for Kent and Middlesex prior to this summer's major sporting event."
Angus Fraser, who was instrumental in Middlesex signing Hughes, explains his stand

"I would like to see a rule brought in which states overseas players cannot play [county matches] in our country if their side is touring that summer."
Alec Stewart would like this sort of thing to be stamped out once and for all