New Zealand Cricket could go as far as threatening lawsuits against its pin-up players Stephen Fleming and Shane Bond if they sign with the rebel league in India.
In a black day for the sport in this country, chief executive Justin Vaughan will today announce NZC's position on the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and the implications for those considering breaching their national contracts for a bombload of cash.
Fleming, Bond and former stars Chris Cairns, Chris Harris and Nathan Astle are on the rebel league's shopping list but NZC is only interested in Bond and Fleming, who have maintained a stony silence on the subject since day one.
NZC is virtually powerless to stop Fleming or Bond from participating in the unsanctioned month-long Twenty20 tournament in India in October but its action upon the players' return to New Zealand would be swift and severe.
If the players were relaxed at having their NZC contracts terminated and seeing their careers end under a cloud they now have a bombshell coming.
An impeccable source told The Dominion Post last night that the players would be slapped with law suits for breach of contract.
And to make matters worse for Fleming, his grip on the test captaincy seems more tenuous than ever regardless of whether he eventually commits to NZC.
Some NZC board officials want Fleming strung up for what they regard as unethical behaviour - and there is an even greater fear that his links to the ICL, which is in direct opposition to the governing body in India (BCCI), will jeopardise plans for John Wright to open up the pathway for more cricket between the two countries.
Vaughan is bed-ridden with the flu but NZC public affairs manager Steve Addison said the new chief executive would be at headquarters in Christchurch today, where he would state the obvious in regard to NZC's stance on the situation.
It seems more than a coincidence that Vaughan will speak a day after the International Cricket Council threw its weight behind the BCCI, saying it was the "only recognised body" to administer the sport in India.
The ICC's position is ultimately going to determine what direction NZC takes because NZC derives a significant amount of its income out of its relationship with cricket's governing body.
NZC's stance against the would-be rebels will please Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who yesterday urged world boards to take a strong action against dissenting players.
Ponting said last week's signing of the Pakistan pair of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf had deeply concerned him, along with the news the New Zealand Players' Association was keen for its players to sign up yet still play mainstream cricket.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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