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ECB to agree to Middlesex invite

The England and Wales Cricket Board is unlikely to block the Twenty20 Cup winners the Middlesex Crusaders from the 3m Champions League if they decide to enter it.

Middlesex have been invited but, as yet, are non-committal due to the ECB's conflicts with its Indian counterparts.

The Indian board maintained teams who had players from the rebel Indian Cricket League would not be invited and excluded Kent accordingly.

The ECB is set discuss the issue at a board meeting on Monday.

Middlesex have been invited to join the two finalists from Australia, South Africa and India - along with a team from Pakistan - in the lucrative tournament this autumn.

Originally both finalists from England were initially invited.

But Kent have now been overlooked because they fielded Justin Kemp and Azhar Mahmood who played in the unsanctioned ICL, which competes against the ICC-backed Indian Premier League.

The ECB is set to discuss whether to take a stand and not enter until 2009 - or to allow Middlesex to play in the 2008 tournament should they wish.

"We would obviously consult with the ECB before making any final decision," said Middlesex secretary Vinny Codrington.

"I haven't seen the offer yet but we are part of the ECB and we'd have to go through the consultation with them.

"From our point of view we've got extremely good relations with both the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] and the ECB and we're excited about the fact the tournament is going ahead and we'll have to wait and see what happens."

At present the ECB is unwilling to give its backing to the Champions League in its current format, saying it is unhappy with several aspects of the proposal - including the ban on ICL players.

England had expected to be a founder member of the Twenty20 Champions League event with voting rights and shares alongside India, South Africa and Australia but are now more likely to accept a role as a participant only.

The event is due to take place between 29 September and 8 October, starting just one day after the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy finishes.

The ICC, who is yet to comment on the affair, has ruled that no official international events can be staged a week before or a week after a global event.

But the BCCI is set to argue only domestic teams are involved so this ruling does not apply.

The inaugural tournament will feature eight teams who will play 15 matches at three venues - Jaipur, New Delhi and Mohali - but that number will increase to 12 teams playing 23 matches in 2009.

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