Flaws in overseas players ruling will have to be resolved
MARK Graham (October 13) says he understands that “the ECB clamped down on overseas amateurs at club level this year, to help promote more UK-born players.” This is not strictly correct.
The Two Counties Cricket Championship (TCCC) tribunal (which I chaired) that heard the appeal by Frinton CC against the loss of 36 points for fielding an ineligible overseas player considered the matter in detail.
It is true the ECB issued a guidance document in January, “Overseas Players and Managed Migration”, which has been interpreted by some as indicating the ECB were clamping down on overseas players. However, as we said in our judgment, the section “Home Office definition of Professional vs Amateur” in the guidance includes an unjustified and insupportable gloss by the Home Office on the relevant definitions in the Immigration Rules, especially the definition of ‘amateur’.
It may be the Home Office (perhaps as part of its overall concern to reduce immigration) wanted to clamp down on overseas players, and that the ECB are at fault for uncritically adopting this gloss, but any blame must be laid fairly and squarely on the Home Office. It is to be regretted, therefore (as we recorded), that a Home Office official responded to a legal opinion by the leading QC on immigration law by saying that it was “very interesting but not without its flaws”, while not identifying the alleged flaws.
As Mike Atherton pointed out in The Times in August (commenting on the TCCC appeal decision), the knock-on effect of the Home Office’s position may be “to limit the opportunities to travel and play abroad for young English players”. The ECB are to meet Home Office officials later to discuss the issues. Let us hope that the outcome facilitates the exchange of players between the UK and the Southern Hemisphere, leaving it to leagues to decide the basis on which member clubs may include overseas players.
DAVID LAMMING North Essex CL chairman