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January 28, 2008
Heath Mills, the executive manager of the New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA), has expressed disappointment at New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) decision to terminate Shane Bond's contract and called on the authorities to address the situation to avoid international cricket being devalued. He has also accused NZC of acting to appease the Indian board.
Mills said that Bond's contract with NZC allowed him to play for third parties when his NZC commitments allowed, and that there were no restrictions on what events he could participate in. "Three months ago Bond sought and was granted consent by NZC to sign with the Indian Cricket League (ICL) in line with his playing contract," Mills said. "Further to that Bond ensured his ICL contract released him for international duties if required.
"In this way his ICL contract did not affect his ability to play for New Zealand or impact on international cricket. NZC has become increasingly concerned at the implications should they select Bond, or any other player, to represent New Zealand if they are contracted to the ICL. These concerns principally relate to NZC's relationship with the Indian board (BCCI) and perceived risks to future revenue streams should the BCCI take a stand against NZC given the ICL is not sanctioned by that organisation."
NZC has also recently been made aware of an ICC operating manual regulation that purports to not allow them to release players to participate in non-sanctioned events. However, Mills said this regulation formed no part of the contracting arrangements with players and had never been communicated to them by the ICC or NZC.
"It has no application within the current player contracting arrangements between NZC, the NZCPA and the players. Attempting to retrospectively introduce and impose a regulation which amounts to a restraint of trade is simply unfair and inappropriate, and it compromises the freedom of contract that is preserved for our players under their agreements.
"The NZCPA fully understands the position NZC has found itself and we do not want them to damage relationships with the BCCI and other ICC members. However, pressure to preserve these relationships should not be placed above preserving New Zealand's right to select its best players to represent the Black Caps, the rights and aspirations of New Zealand citizens to represent their country and the legal rights of players under their signed playing contracts.
"Given the issues Bond has decided to stand aside from international cricket at NZC's request. The NZCPA supports this decision as it enables him to preserve a strong relationship with the board of NZC in the hope that he can again contribute to the game in New Zealand at some stage in the future. However, this is not a decision that he was compelled to make and under our contract system negotiated with NZC it remains open for any player to play for a third party like the ICL and still remain contracted to and play for NZC.
"It is this situation that leaves the NZCPA concerned for cricket in New Zealand. We urge the ICC to step in and attempt to influence this situation and find a way to manage third party investment in our sport before we lose more players both here and around the world, and international cricket has been damaged further. History has shown that professional sports cannot afford to become split. It is absolutely vital that international cricket remains the pinnacle of the sport and that we ensure the best players are playing."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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