New Zealand Cricket has told its selectors to never again consider six former Black Caps for any representative selection after they played in the rebel Indian Cricket League competition.
It appears the players won't even be allowed to hold contracts to play for State Championship teams, and will be limited to playing on for match payments on a game-by-game basis a huge blow to their prospects of playing any more meaningful cricket in New Zealand.
NZ Cricket has advised selectors to disregard for national or "A" team inclusion current prospects Daryl Tuffey and Hamish Marshall, or the recently "retired" Chris Cairns, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan and Chris Harris.
The six former test players have drawn the ire of the establishment for competing in the lucrative but unsanctioned ICL, which completed its first season of operation this month amid unanimous condemnation from the International Cricket Council's member nations.
Of the sextet, Cairns, Harris and Astle are almost certainly past their use-by dates for national duty, but Tuffey, McMillan and Marshall if the latter opted to reverse his Kolpak status may have entertained thoughts of a comeback.
That now seems impossible following revelations of an agreement to actively discourage the selection of rebel players at all levels struck between the chief executives of all the test-playing nations.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said yesterday he'd been in contact with Lalit Modi, a vice-president of the Indian cricket board, and had phoned Modi to clarify NZC's position and would be speaking to him again on the issue.
But he confirmed the policy of discouraging the selection of the rebels.
"We have a preference that our selectors take into consideration the fact that that these guys have been playing in an unsanctioned competition, an event that isn't in the best interests of New Zealand or world cricket, and that we'd rather that they didn't play," said Vaughan.
"I don't think we can say that they're ineligible for selection. We'd prefer to say that the selectors will be encouraged to consider other players.
"There's an understanding that we don't support the ICL and that we don't want to give them unnecessary traction."
The international pact came to light after the Indian board of control took exception to the inclusion of Tuffey in an Auckland XI that played the Bangladeshi tourists, claiming the selection of a rebel undermined the intent of the agreement.
"All the boards had agreed in principle at the last ICC CEO's meeting that any player who is part of an unauthorised tournament will not be encouraged," Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, told the Times of India.
"This is a violation of a gentleman's agreement. Lalit Modi will write to New Zealand Cricket to protest against this move."
NZC had earlier made clear its position on contracted players participating in the rebel league, saying it would regard the action as a breach of contract. But until last week it had not spelled out its position on the status of non-contracted players.
The impact of the CEOs agreement will probably be felt again this week, when the announcement of the England squad to tour New Zealand will almost certainly highlight the exclusion of rebel players Darren Maddy, Paul Nixon, Chris Read and Vikram Solanki.
"We regard this as a very serious issue," the ECB's new chairman Giles Clarke recently told The Times. "Selectors will be instructed to take into consideration the fact that these players have played in an unauthorised competition. You can draw your own conclusions from that."
NZC's hardline stance follows that of the boards of India, Pakistan and South Africa, who have all threatened their rebel players with bans not only from playing international cricket but also from their domestic competitions.
"We view them as rebels," Gerald Majola, the CSA chief executive, told Beeld, an Afrikaans newspaper. "They have joined a breakaway organisation. Once they have played even one game in the ICL tournament, it's over and they will never be allowed to play in South Africa again."
Pakistan board chief Nasim Ashraf said: "We were very clear about our policy about the ICL and they [the players] knew they would be automatically banned from playing cricket in Pakistan if they took part."
However, the move to marginalise the rebels has received a predictable response from Tim May, the chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations.
"If a player wants to retire from international cricket because he's had enough and wants to spend more time with his family and he can seek employment elsewhere, to allow him to spend more time with his family, then, like any other employee, he should be allowed to," May said. "We will resist that [banning players] with everything we have. That is an unreasonable restraint of trade."
Vaughan said at this stage, NZC saw no need to prevent the rebels playing domestic cricket on a non-contracted, match-by-match basis, but they would monitor the situation and could yet change position.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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