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February 5, 2009
New Zealand's State Twenty20 competition is underway and, with the possibility of a spot in the Champions Twenty20 League for the winners, teams are wary of fielding players associated with the unauthorised ICL. The Champions League prohibits teams from fielding players with ICL links.
"You never count your chickens but we have had some fairly strong verbal assurances that a New Zealand team is very likely to be part of the competition," New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan told the Press. "We're really hopeful that before the [State Twenty20] final the teams will go in knowing that if they win the game they'll then be going to India to play in this huge international competition. We don't have the level of certainty to be able to do that at this stage, but we're hopeful that in the coming weeks we'll get that."
Domestic teams are cautious of repeating the mistake Kent made in the Twenty20 Cup in England last year, when they fielded two players contracted to the ICL and were blocked from the inaugural edition of the Champions League (which was subsequently put off due to the Mumbai terrorist attacks). There are currently four ICL players - Shane Bond, Hamish Marshall, Chris Harris and Daryl Tuffey - on New Zealand's domestic circuit. The first two are cleared to play, however, because they signed on with the ICL before the cut-off date.
Vaughan warned about the grey areas surrounding the others. "This is a competition that's been set up by Australia, India and South Africa, so they set the rules. We need to be crystal clear about what those are and we've communicated that through to our associations, in terms of what impact fielding ICL players might have on their potential eligibility for the Champions League. We know Hamish and Shane are clear to play ... but we are not quite as clear with Chris and Daryl and we're looking to get clarification on that in the next day or two.
"If you were Canterbury Cricket [who have Harris on their roster] and you knew there was a chance that your team might be getting the opportunity to go to this huge international competition, then you wouldn't want to jeopardise that chance of qualification."
The Champions League wis scheduled for October 2009.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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