Iain O'Brien, the former New Zealand fast bowler, has lost his appeal to be classified as a domestic player for Middlesex. O'Brien faces an uncertain future after the ECB upheld an earlier decision to deem him an overseas player, which the fast bowler had hoped to overturn as he is married to an English woman.

An ECB statement announcing the ruling read: "ECB today confirmed that the decision of the ECB Board to refuse the application made by Middlesex County Cricket Club to register Iain O'Brien as a qualified cricketer was upheld by an independent appeal panel."

O'Brien, 34, retired from international cricket last December, and had signed a three-year deal with Middlesex which had a clause stipulating that he would be retained by the county only if he was classed as a local player. Each county can have only one overseas player, and Middlesex have already signed on Australian opening batsman Chris Rogers for the 2011 season.

Over the past season, O'Brien was hampered by injuries, playing only seven of the 16 first-class matches for Middlesex, taking 23 wickets at an average of 27.30 with a best of 8 for 105. He could continue to have a career in England if he can persuade another county to sign him on as an overseas player. He has also contemplated a return to his home team, Wellington, having approached their coach Anthony Stuart for a spot in the side.