Giles Clarke blocks England players from IPL
England players are on a possible collision course with the England and Wales Cricket Board over the reluctance of the governing body to allow them to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League.
Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, said yesterday that England's players would be expected to rest ahead of next year's Ashes series against Australia rather than supplement their income by playing in the IPL during a potential break from their international schedule.
But Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, accused the ECB of behaving like King Canute in refusing to allow the England players to cash in on the Twenty20 revolution in India.
"It's human nature that they want to play in the IPL," Morris said. "You can't fight the market. The cricket market has had a significant amount of money going into it and we should be looking to capitalise and develop it, not be King Canute."
So far only one English player, Hampshire all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, has signed for the IPL. As Mascarenhas, a one-day international, is not a centrally-contracted player he did not need ECB approval to play in the tournament, which begins on April 18.
Mascarenhas' county colleague Kevin Pietersen has also expressed an interest in playing in the IPL but cannot do so without the permission of the ECB, who employ him through a central contract.
The IPL organisers have suggested that they might be prepared to reschedule future tournaments to enable England players to participate.
There is a window after England's tour of the West Indies next March, but that appeared to be slammed shut by Clarke at the ECB's domestic season launch at Lord's yesterday.
"We would like to give our players a break before the Ashes series," Clarke said. "We don't want them turning up exhausted. The spectators of this country want to know that our players are as fit and as sharp and ready for the Australia series as we can ensure that they are."
But Clarke's hard-line approach was criticised by the players' union.
"What you don't want at this time is friction between the England players and their employers," Morris said.
"I can't see how that is sensible tactics at a time when, if the players get frustrated or unhappy then, for the first time, they have an alternative involving a significant amount of money." Morris hopes that further discussions with the ECB can prevent a full-blown conflict.
The ECB have other issues to contend with at a board meeting tomorrow, when they will consider changes to the domestic playing structure aimed at making county cricket more attractive in response to the creation of the IPL.
Allowing counties to employ three overseas players in the Twenty20 Cup from next season will be on the agenda, as will rescheduling county cricket's money-spinning competition to avoid clashes with international matches so that England players can play in it.
The ECB board will also consider appeals from players, including Gloucestershire's former New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall and Kent's former South Africa all-rounder Justin Kemp, whose registrations to play county cricket this season were blocked last month because of their participation in the 'rebel' Indian Cricket League.