ECB looking for ICL players clarification
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) says there is confusion over the Indian Cricket board's decision to ban counties fielding the Indian Cricket League (ICL) players in the Twenty20 Champions League later this summer.
ECB is seeking clarification on the issue from other participating countries of the Champions League.
The Board of control for Cricket in India (BCCI) made it clear Sunday that England can take part in the Twenty20 Champions League on the condition that counties will not include ICL players in the sides playing in the championship to be held in India September.
The Indian Board's stand, the ECB sources feel is contrary to the understanding between the two Boards. It was agreed, the sources insist, that the ICL players will be barred from the Champions League, not the counties.
The British media reported conflicting versions on the Indian Board's Sunday decision. BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah was quoted as saying that Pakistan had already been invited to replace England and former BCCI president Inderjit Singh Bindra, an influential member of the IPL governing council, as saying that only three countries are confirmed and Pakistan could be the fourth if the English counties refuse to drop ICL players from their teams.
Bindra, however, told the Indian media on Sunday that it would not be proper on his part to take a stand on the issue since he would soon be taking over as ICC's Principal Adviser.
BCCI though left the ball in the court of three participating nations -- Australia, South Africa and Pakistan -- to reach a consensus on the issue during International Cricket Council's (ICC) meeting in Dubai next week.
"This is a venture between four countries and we are awaiting Australia to come up with the rules and regulations. We are expecting that to take place next week in Dubai," an ECB spokesman was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
The finalists of the ongoing Twenty20 Cup in England in August will qualify for the Champions League. But only three of the 18 counties -- Essex, Middlesex and Somerset -- do not have players who have signed ICL contracts and it is more likely that ECB will face a situation where they will have to take a firm stand on whether to play or boycott it.
The likelihood is that the two counties qualifying from England will have ICL players, and if those players are subsequently withdrawn from the Champions League, the counties will face legal implications.
ICL lawyer Jeremy Roberts had said that legal action against the ECB would be inevitable as "It would be a restraint of trade."
The ECB could invite alternative counties to represent England if the leading ones insist on keeping the "rebel" players.
The BCCI had earlier asked ECB not to allow the rebel ICL players to compete in domestic competition as it is the only board which has not banned them. This time though BCCI is serious.
During the ongoing Twenty20 Cup, teams have refused to pull out ICL players because they said the rule was unclear.
BCCI diktat will put the pressure on Cricket Australia, who will be drafting rules for the competition, including those on the eligibility.