Flaws in over­seas play­ers rul­ing will have to be re­solved

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS & VIEWS -

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

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