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Durham skipper warned over ICL

Durham have warned captain Dale Benkenstein his future at the club could be under threat if he continues to play in the Twenty20 Indian Cricket League.

Benkenstein will play for the Delhi Giants in the rebel tournament which has been bitterly opposed by the Indian Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council (ICC) because it is a rival to the officially-sanctioned Indian Premier League (IPL).

His involvement in the competition has already led to Benkenstein being banned from playing for Natal by the South African Cricket Board this winter and Durham chief executive David Harker admits he could be banned by the English Cricket Board if he continues to participate in the ICL.

At this stage the ECB have only threatened to ban any English-based players who have featured in the rebel league, although the authorities are expected to take a far tougher stance in the future with sanctions rather than threats.

Durham chief executive David Harker said: “At the moment we do not think there will be any problems for Dale, but the ECB are under pressure from the Indian Cricket Board, and the rest of world cricket, to take a tougher stance.

“We can’t blame Dale for what he has done because the financial rewards on offer are huge, but we are wary that, if he decides to play in the ICL again next winter he could be banned from playing county cricket.

“The authorities are annoyed by the fact that, when they came to an agreement with the ECB about the IPL, they promised they would not try to get any English players because it clashed with the county season.

“They are, however, annoyed that English players then turned up playing in the ICL before Christmas and they want the ECB to try to ensure this does not happen again. Dale is not an English player but he could still be penalised because he plays county cricket.

“Dale has been fundamental to the success we have had in the last few years and it is a measure of how highly we value him that we have said he will have a contract with us for as long as he feels as though he is able to contribute. His current deal runs out at the end of 2009 but we have already discussed a one-year extension.”

The ECB have already warned that overseas signings will be stopped from playing county cricket because they require a no objection certificate (NOC) from their home board before being allowed to play in England. It is believed that several, including New Zealand Cricket and the Pakistan Cricket Board, are refusing to issue them.

This has already forced Yorkshire to cancel the contract of Pakistan’s Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and could also lead to the withdrawal of Sussex bowler Mushtaq Ahmed’s NOC after he also signed up for the latest ICL tournament.

Hampshire’s New Zealand recruit Shane Bond could also be denied permission to play, although at this stage Kolpak signings like Benkenstein are not affected as they do not require an NOC.

Benkenstein will miss Durham’s pre-season tour to South Africa because of his duties in Delhi, but will arrive at the Riverside before the start of the county campaign as the ICL finishes on April 7.

We can’t blame Dale for what he has done but we are wary as he could be banned from playing country cricket.

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