Marshall may sue if ban is imposed

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Hamish Marshall will almost certainly take legal action against the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) if he is prevented from playing for Gloucestershire this season.

The 28-year-old former New Zealand Test batsman faces a summer out in the cold after signing with the unauthorised Indian Cricket League (ICL).

ECB officials met yesterday to discuss the issue and were today expected to decide whether or not to allow overseas cricketers who have signed with the ICL to register for counties.

Marshall, who played in the ICL in November last year, is one of several players believed to be ready to take the England board to court should it carry out its threats to impose bans.

Previously employed as an overseas signing, he recently agreed a new three-year contract with Gloucestershire as a qualified player. But the ECB have refused his registration.

Gloucestershire recently appealed against that decision. Yet, with less than a week to go before the start of the English season, the Kiwi remains in limbo. The ECB maintains it is on sound legal ground, but that is disputed by Andrew Fitch-Holland, who represents Marshall and South African international Andrew Hall.

He said: "My clients are suffering because they have signed contracts that start this summer. But they signed good faith contracts and at the time had no reason to think that there would be consequences.

"How is it fair and reasonable that they are now prevented from playing?"

Under the ECB's own regulations, any player refused registration has a right to a personal hearing or an appeal in front of a three-man panel with one representative from the ECB, one from the Professional Cricketers' Association and one from an independent arbitration organisation.

However, this has not been offered to Marshall and Hall as an option.

Fitch-Hall is also concerned that any appeals process could drag on and compromise his clients and their counties.

"If Hamish cannot play for Gloucestershire then are the points they miss out on because he is not scoring the runs expected going to be returned? Of course not."

Marshall's case is especially complex because he is an Irish passport holder and not, strictly-speaking, a Kolpak player.

His registration has been refused because he last played for New Zealand on April 8, 2007, eight days after the cut off. Had he played on March 31 then his application to play for Gloucestershire could not have been refused.
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