Yorkshire have expressed their anger at the ECB for not allowing Jonny Bairstow to play in the County Championship decider against Middlesex at Lord's. In what is proving a fraught build-up to the match, it also emerged that Adil Rashid will not be available, having requested to be rested ahead of England's winter.
The club issued a lengthy statement which said that Bairstow had confirmed he wanted to play and questioned the reasoning of not making Bairstow available despite it being more than two weeks since he last played.
"The Yorkshire County Cricket Club would like to express its disappointment after the ECB refused the club's request for Jonny Bairstow to participate in the final Specsavers County Championship fixture of the season," the statement said.
"Yorkshire members, supporters and other stakeholders in the game will wonder why this permission has been refused. Having been rested for 16 days since he last played for England, Bairstow said he felt refreshed and wanted to play for Yorkshire against Middlesex at Lord's, where the club has the opportunity of winning three successive County Championships, a feat last achieved almost 50 years ago."
They made much briefer comment about Rashid who was included in both England's squads for the Bangladesh tour and will be expected to tour India as well. "Adil Rashid has requested to be rested ahead of a busy winter schedule with England," a team-news statement said.
Jason Gillespie, preparing for his final match as Yorkshire coach, told ESPNcricinfo: "I'm obviously frustrated about Rash and I said to him I hope he doesn't regret the decision he has made. But I fully respect his decision. He has played a lot of cricket and he feels he needs a rest."
However, in a pointed tweet, Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, who has been known to let his emotions show, posted: "Yes, he wants to rest. That's his decision. I'll take 11 lads on the field who will give everything to win."
Yorkshire have to win to retain hopes of a hat-trick of titles following their defeat against Somerset last week. Even a victory would not be enough, however, if Somerset win against Nottinghamshire and gain one more point than Yorkshire in the process.
Bairstow, meanwhile, is not a centrally contracted player - although he will gain a central contract under the new batch announced at the end of the month - but Yorkshire needed the ECB's permission to play him. When Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket, approached England coach Trevor Bayliss and director of cricket Andrew Strauss, the request was declined.
"Moxon works closely with England due to the fact that six players from Yorkshire have represented their country regularly over the last 12 months. Bayliss' approach has been to see how the player feels, and this was respected when Bairstow said that he needed a rest after the Royal London One-Day Series.
"To put matters into context, other centrally contracted players who are soon to tour Bangladesh and India with England, have been allowed to represent their county in critical matches. Bairstow has played five days of cricket in five weeks since the Kia Oval Test match, which finished on Sunday August 14."
Bairstow would have been the ideal replacement for Jake Lehmann who has been recalled by South Australia to prepare for their domestic season. He is part of the one-day and Test squads for the Bangladesh tour and is likely to play seven consecutive Tests from mid-October to the end of the India leg shortly before Christmas.
Yorkshire have been supportive of England's rest policy in the case of Joe Root, who is another absentee from the Middlesex clash. The decision to rest Root for the rest of the season was happily accepted in recognition of his weight of cricket across all formats and, even when he was left out of England's one-day series in Bangladesh, the county made no attempt to persuade the ECB or the player himself that he should play at Lord's.
Yorkshire's 13-man squad does include David Willey and Liam Plunkett, who are part of England's one-day squad, as well as Gary Ballance who will tour with the Test side.
But at a time when the future of the domestic game is being shaped the absence of a star England player for a rare televised Championship match with the title at stake, and the decision of another to opt out despite the importance of the fixture, will lead to further debate about the standing of the competition.
Rashid's absence means Yorkshire's spin for the crunch Championship match will be in the hands of Azeem Rafiq. Rashid has taken 32 wickets at 33.84 in 10 Championship games this season.
Middlesex, who are set to have Steven Finn available, have also been boosted by the availability of Tim Murtagh after Cricket Ireland allowed him to remain with the county instead of flying out with the rest of the Ireland squad to South Africa.