The England & Wales Cricket Board have given their blessing for Middlesex to take part in the inaugural Champions Twenty20 League later this year, but have expressed their "bitter disappointment" that Kent, the runners-up in last week's Twenty20 Cup final, have been barred from the event because their squad includes players with links with the unauthorised ICL competition.
Kent's omission was confirmed to the ECB by Cricket Australia, who have been tasked with drawing up the rules and regulations of the competition. "Both the ECB and Kent are bitterly disappointed at this stance," read a statement, "as Kent had offered various solutions aimed at overcoming the objections of the organisers, such as not to include players who had taken part in unauthorised cricket in their squad."
With Kent's full knowledge, the ECB offered Essex, whom Kent beat in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 Cup, as an alternative county because their squad contains no ICL players. But this was also rejected by the organisers.
"The ECB have written to the organisers confirming that, subject to contract, the Board has approved the participation of Middlesex, the Twenty20 Cup winners, on the proviso that the event is authorised and on agreed terms," read a statement. "ECB has requested and is awaiting confirmation of the regulations for this event from the organisers."
Middlesex will join two teams each from India, Australia and South Africa and Pakistan's Sialkot in the eight-team competition. "It's very good news for world cricket," Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, told Cricinfo. "We are extremely happy to have Middlesex on board. This makes the tournament complete in every manner."
India, Australia and South Africa are the three founding partners of the Champions League which will be held from September 29-October 8. Modi had previously said that the tournament would be held in Jaipur, Delhi and Mohali this year but has since put that decision on hold.
"Ideally we would like to conduct the games at the venues announced originally but there are offers from other people and the members decided to examine all the options and not to decide right now," Modi said.