Nixon confirms decision to join ICL

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London, Nov 10 (UNI) Refusing to budge from his stated position, former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon has reaffirmed that he would be flying to India next Wednesday to join the Indian Cricket League.

Leicestershire's Paul Nixon, along with Boyd Rankin, of Warwickshire, committed themselves in the summer to the breakaway ICL tournament, after consultation with the Professional Cricketers' Association.

Since then opposition to the rebel league has hardened. Nixon though was bullish about the tournament.

''At this stage of my career it's an exciting challenge to play in the ICL. Surely it's a good thing for any county player to experience high-pressure cricket on surfaces where our national team has traditionally struggled,'' Nixon was quoted as saying by the 'Telegraph'.

The 37-year-old Nixon says he has been in regular contact with his employers, who have received e-mails from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) warning them that they risk exclusion from the Champions League if he plays in the ICL.

''The ECB have got to be seen to be doing the right thing,'' Nixon said, ''but the question is what the final ruling is going to be.'' Rankin, an Irish international, is in a slightly more straightforward position. He need not worry about relations with his national board, as Ireland is not in the inner circle of Test nations who have closed ranks against the ICL.

But he is still a Warwickshire player, and like his captain at Edgbaston, Darren Maddy -- who also has an ICL contract -- he could potentially endanger their participation in the Champions League if the tournament organisers take a hard line.

''I'm confident that I'm on my way to India,'' Rankin said.

''I signed up at the end of August. I knew there was a bit of uncertainty with it, but I've been speaking to the PCA and I'm fairly happy about the position. I can't do much about it now in any case, as I signed months ago.'' Warwickshire chief executive Colin Povey is not quite so comfortable with the vague yet threatening noises coming from the Champions League. ''We sought further information from the ECB,'' he said, ''but the reply we got didn't answer our questions.'' Leicestershire chairman Neil Davidson said that he hoped there would be no draconian bans, ''as that will only devalue the Champions League''.

''My sympathies are with the players. I can't see any point banning them because they appear in independent tournaments out of season, when they're out of contract,'' he said.

The ECB is in an awkward position because opposition to the ICL is being driven by India, South Africa and Australia -- three of the other teams they are working with on the Champions League. India, like Pakistan, have already said they will ban any ICL players from all their domestic cricket.

The ECB says that the ICL will not be protected by any drug-testing or anti-corruption controls, and that it will draw revenue away from the established bodies who provide a framework for cricket worldwide. But they are also painfully aware that any formal move to block players' involvement could be construed as restraint of trade, and will draw opposition from the players' union.

Maddy, Nixon and Rankin plus the Ireland and Northants wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien, are believed to hold ICL contracts.

UNI

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