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Rebel pair free to play at home

Chris Harris and Hamish Marshall are free to play domestic cricket in New Zealand this summer despite signing for the rebel league in India.

Harris wants to play for Canterbury and Marshall as an overseas player for Northern Districts. Their path was cleared yesterday by New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan.

Despite clear objections to the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League (ICL), Vaughan said NZC was virtually powerless to stop Harris and Marshall from playing in New Zealand because the pair had not signed contracts with his organisation.

Vaughan said it raised the issue of restraint of trade, so it appears the only obstacle in the way of Harris and Marshall is their provinces or, more precisely, their respective first-class coaches.

“Both of them aren’t contracted players so there really isn’t an ability or a desire for us to restrict them playing within our domestic competitions,” Vaughan said. “We’ve made it clear what our position is on the ICL. We are not supporting it, but the extent of our influence is restricted to our contracted players.”

But Vaughan could not resist a subtle poke at the ICL, suggesting Canterbury and Northern Districts should be careful about rushing the pair straight into the lineups after their Twenty20 commitments in India in December.

“The ICL is not going to be competitive by the sound of it so these guys would not have played much top cricket,” Vaughan said.

“I would expect the coaches to take that into consideration when they consider bringing the players back. You would hate to think a No 3 who is scoring runs for Northern when Hamish is away is immediately excluded from the side.”

Vaughan doubted the inclusion of Harris and Marshall would have any ramifications for NZC because its paymaster, the International Cricket Council, is so vehemently opposed to the rebel league.

“No, I think they understand,” Vaughan said.

“This is certainly the position that the ECB (England Cricket Board) has taken with its county players. They don’t believe they have any ability to restrict, it is a restraint of trade issue and that is the way it is.

“That’s out attitude too. We’ve been very clear with our international players and within our powers we will do all we can to steer players toward sanctioned events rather than rebel ones.”

Meanwhile, Vaughan said Craig McMillan’s international future was still unclear after talks on Wednesday. McMillan is considering an approach from the ICL but is contracted to NZC and would be barred and possibly face legal action if he jumped ship.”Talks are ongoing,” was all Vaughan would say.

However, he said the uncertainty over McMillan’s future did not count against him when Lou Vincent was named on Wednesday as the replacement for this month’s test tour to South Africa after Peter Fulton was ruled out with a knee injury.

“That wasn’t a consideration at all. The selectors were not advised to pick him or not pick him.”

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