Middlesex, whose recent performances in the Caribbean highlighted the problems facing the club, have been dealt another blow with news that they will be without five of their leading players for December's Champions League.
The competition rules state that teams must field the squad at the date they won their qualifying competitions which, in Middlesex's case, was July 26. That means that Neil Dexter, who was signed post season from Kent, and Neil Carter, a short-term loan signing from Warwickshire, are both ineligible. Dirk Nannes is also missing from the squad as he is representing Victoria.
"The rules are clear that only those players who enabled the squad to win the domestic championship can play in the Champions League," Sundar Raman, the chief executive of the Champions League, told Cricinfo. "We are communicating with Middlesex, and will reiterate the rules."
Two other key batsman, Owais Shah and Andrew Strauss, are in India with the England squad and Middlesex officials had hoped that the pair might be released for the tournament as it takes place between the end of the ODIs and the first Test. However, following negotiations between the ECB and Middlesex it is expected the county's request will be declined.
"I think we have been hit badly," Murali Karthik told Cricinfo. "I think we should at least be allowed Dexter because he has signed for Middlesex for the next two years and we have a few players going. In their absence, I am afraid we will be fielding a second-string side. Shah and Strauss are our top batsmen. As a result, we will come into the tournament as one of the weaker sides, though I don't know what Sialkot from Pakistan will look like."
The only glimmer of good news came with the announcement that Ed Joyce, who joins Sussex at the end of the year, will make his final appearances for Middlesex in India.