Twenty20 Cup blurred by ICL rebals

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English counties vying for a shot at an inaugural £2.5million Champions League jackpot face an uncertain future should they select players with Indian Cricket League connections.

Confusion engulfed the English domestic scene on Monday, just hours after details of the riches on offer emerged, following comments by Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi.

The issue of 'rebel' ICL players operating in English cricket has irked the Indian board for some time and counties were warned about it in October.

And it has not gone away, following Modi's reiteration that any team fielding ICL men will be excluded from the autumn club extravaganza in which the winners pocket five million dollars.

So with only hours to go ahead of the opening matches of this year's Twenty20 Cup on Wednesday, counties must make a snap decision upon whether to pick and be damned or avoid confrontation.

Derek Brewer, chief executive of Nottinghamshire, seemed to sum up the prevalent mood when he said: "We will pick our best team and see what happens later on."

Nottinghamshire are captained by Chris Read, who featured in the first ICL event but refused to commit to further ones when the consequences to his county career became apparent.

Only Somerset, Essex and Middlesex are 'clean', while a number of counties have just one player, whose participation in 2007 like Read has left them in a grey area.

Surrey are an example of a team who have a more recent ICL connection, in Saqlain Mushtaq.

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon said: "As it stands, I think the situation is quite blurred. We are waiting for clarity."

A number of county chief executives spent this morning in telephone consultation over the issue and its implications.

However, they are not likely to find resolution for another three weeks as Cricket Australia will reveal the rules and regulations for the tournament at the International Cricket Council conference in Dubai on June 29.

"They have to sit down and look at it from the point of view of establishing a competition which is durable over 20 to 25 years," said England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke.

"We set down in our communiqu to counties last October the situation as we s

"It is a matter entirely for them how they pick their sides.

"We've explained at length in a previous communiqu to them, there has been very clear correspondence from David Collier to the coue position.

"A far greater long-term issue for the success of this competition is who plays for who? That is a far more durable problem than a rogue competition that may not last another year or so."

Somerset Alfonso Thomas is an example of someone who could be registered for two teams in the Champions League, having featured for KwaZulu Natal Dolphins.

Modi has also raised eyebrows with his revelation that any cricketer signed up for an IPL side must honour that contract first and foremost, which means Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas will have to play for Rajasthan Royals in the event both qualify.

England is the only one of the four participating nations not to have finalised their entrants - the two finalists at the Rose Bowl on July 26 will be put forward against the best 20-over sides from Australia, India and South Africa.
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