Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 27 November 2020

ICC demand MCL T20 finally define its central concept – retirement

Osman Samiuddin reports on the unrest the Masters Champions League is causing in world cricket with its loose definition of retirement and its current employment of at least a few clearly active cricketers.
Azhar Mahmood hopes his Masters Champions League participation with Virgo Super Kings leads to a Pakistan recall. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Azhar Mahmood hopes his Masters Champions League participation with Virgo Super Kings leads to a Pakistan recall. Francois Nel / Getty Images

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has refused to rule out the possibility that the Masters Champions League (MCL) may not be able to go ahead next season, at least until they have agreed on the definition of what constitutes a “retired” player.

By recruiting players who are still active on various domestic circuits and not definitively retired from international cricket, the veterans’ league has irked a number of boards, including South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies and even England.

Last week, at the ICC board meetings in Dubai, the MCL was the subject of official discussion among aggrieved members, some of who complained that players were taking part without having obtained a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the national board.

Three South African players – Richard Levi, Rory Kleinveldt and Robin Peterson – are thought to be playing in the league without NOCs from their national board. Instead, they have obtained them from their domestic franchise sides.

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), as well as his South African counterpart, Haroon Lorgat, are understood to be among those who have wondered how and why the league has allowed players in without NOCs. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is another that has expressed its concerns in the past, even asking players to hand in written statements of “irrevocable” retirements before playing in the MCL.

Read more: The sporting read – Does cricket nostalgia contain a spark? Masters Champions League will answer

Also see: Osman Samiuddin on the ‘teething issue’ facing MCL T20 of when retired means retired

“Yes, there have been some players who allegedly do not have NOCs from their home national boards,” an ICC spokesman told The National.

“ICC regulations require the NOC to be granted by the national board not a franchise. This has been brought to the attention of the organisers.”

The governing body has also expressed its discontent with the fluidity in what the MCL defines as “retired” players. When discussions had initially taken place about the tournament, the ICC had understood it to mean players who were no longer competitively active, similar to the All-Stars venture launched by Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar.

By contrast, MCL has included players who are still playing domestic cricket, and some who still harbour ambitions to play international cricket. Azhar Mahmood, for instance, has continued to insist even during the current season that he has not given up hopes of representing Pakistan again.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has said he was forced to leave international cricket by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), who gave him an ultimatum to announce his retirement by a certain date, or miss out on an NOC to play in the MCL.

“Part of the problem is that the definition of retired cricketers was not properly defined,” the ICC spokesman said.

“The decision not to disapprove the event was made in respect of the 2016 event only. There are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration before any future event is approved/disapproved.”

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), which is the sanctioning body for the league in this case, acknowledged that a clearer definition of who is “retired” was needed.

“There are players who have not played international cricket for some time but are still viewed by their countries as being potential candidates for international cricket,” the board’s chief executive David East told The National.

“That probably comes down to the definition of what retired from international cricket means and maybe that is an area that needs to be explored again.”

East said that the failure to obtain, in some cases, NOCs from national boards was “not right”.

“They are putting steps in place to make sure that has been corrected. I don’t think that was anything underhand, a genuine misunderstanding which they are now trying to put right.”

The meetings represent the first opportunity that boards have had to come together and discuss the matter. Their concerns before the first season began had prompted the ICC to send an email to its members asking them to notify the body if any of their “current/non-retired” players request them for an NOC for the MCL. In the email, the ICC said seeking “current player participation ... is unacceptable to us”.

East played down fears that these issues could adversely affect the long-term prospects of the league.

“What I think will happen is after the tournament concludes we have a debrief with the MCL,” East said. “If the ICC wishes to have a debrief, certainly we’ll involve them.

“Any lessons to be learnt, and if there are, make sure, for future editions those are implemented. ECB and MCL are very committed to ensuring that the tournament is run in accordance to ICC regulations and we have no wish to breach those regulations.

“If the ICC want us to change the way we have gone about things, or modify, then we’re happy to have those conversations and work with them completely.”

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Updated: February 8, 2016 04:00 AM

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