Will PCB pettiness lead to a rupture?
For some time now I've been arguing that the ICC - or more particularly, their member boards - have been sleepwalking into an industrial dispute. Their refusal to organise their T20 leagues so as not to conflict with international cricket is guaranteed to encourage players on the fringe of national selection in India, England and Australia, or any player from the poorer members into premature retirement or conflict.
The solution, to require a NOC from the home board, is an odd one. In every major sport, administrators and owners have attempted to coerce players in order to pay them less, and in most cases, the administrators and owners have - over the course of many many years - lost those battles in courts of law.
But to date, it hasn't mattered to cricket. The boards' monopoly control of international representation, and the benefits, financial, professional and psychological that those bring, has kept players in check. And where it hasn't, such as with the WICB, the benefits accruing to the board from generous granting of NOCs have provided an amicable solution.
The Afridi situation is a whole different scenario however, and it is a potential nightmare for the ICC if it goes to court. Afridi, now contract-less, and therefore not bound to the board, has a contract with Hampshire, now on hold because of the PCB's petty decision. If any circumstance demonstrated Restraint of Trade and Collusion on the part of international cricket boards it is this.
Add that it is happening in England (and the EU), where employment legislation is well established; and happenign to a player with very little to lose when pursuing a court case (something he has already indicated he might do), and the ground is laid for a defining conflict.
Obviously the ECB will have taken leal opinion that the NOC system is legal, but so would have dozens of owners and administrators in times past. If Afridi takes it to court, and at this stage, that remains only a possibility, international control of cricket could shatter.
Given who is in charge of international cricket, maybe that is a good thing.
3rd June, 2011 09:49:55