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New Zealand ban players from ICL

The Indian Cricket League’s (ICL) plans to sign current New Zealand players have been ruined after the country’s board decided it would not release its stars. Stephen Fleming and Shane Bond were linked to the unofficial Twenty20 tournament, but Justin Vaughan, the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive, said the contest could erode the value of official series.

“We depend upon the value of the media rights associated with official international events to provide a majority of our income,” Vaughan said. “It is therefore in the best interests of New Zealand Cricket not to support unofficial events such as the ICL.” He also has concerns over the proposed Stanford Twenty20 in the West Indies.

Four Pakistani players, including Mohammad Yousuf, have signed for the Indian league, but it has struggled to attract the host of promised big names. Chris Harris and the retired Nathan Astle and Chris Cairns have also been linked to the competition, which has not been sanctioned by the ICC or the BCCI.

Vaughan said no contracted player had asked to appear in the tournament, but the issue was considered carefully and the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association supported the position in principle. “The proposed rebel league is scheduled to directly conflict with New Zealand’s tour to South Africa as well as the start of our domestic season,” Vaughan said. “We have entered into these contracts in good faith and stand by our players through their contract period. We expect players to treat us the same way.”

Vaughan said all players with provincial deals would also be bound by the ruling. “We’re aware that [ICL] contracts have been offered to some of our players,” he said. “We have made them aware of NZC’s position. Whilst I can understand why these sort of individual offers can be attractive in the twilight of your career, we need to uphold the integrity of our contracts.”

Vaughan said the recent confusion could prompt NZC to look at whether its stars were adequately remunerated. The current system of awarding deals to 20 players – the lowest-ranked receive a base salary of about NZ$45,000 a year – might be reviewed, with the potential for fewer contracts, but at a higher value.

“We can look at the number of contracts – issues like this do make you think about it,” Vaughan said. “We’ve also recently signed a new media rights deal and the players will benefit directly from that.”

The Indian board is reportedly planning a sanctioned Twenty20 contest and Vaughan said it could lead to New Zealand players taking part. “It is too early to discuss details of this,” he said. “Like the ICL, we also need to be careful when considering this proposed competition to ensure participation is in the best interests of NZC. We expect more information to become public in the coming weeks.”

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