The ICC and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today reaffirmed their support for the mandatory release of top Associate players from county cricket duty to take part in international matches and the priority of FTP events.

This followed discussions and correspondence between ICC President David Morgan and new ICC Chief Executive Officer Haroon Lorgat with Giles Clarke, the ECB Chairman, and ECB Chief Executive David Collier.

'The full commitment of the ECB to work with counties to support the ICC Board's mandatory release policy for Associate players is great news and very welcome,' said Mr Morgan.

'It will help to ensure that when the top Associates have ODIs against Full Members or compete in next month's ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Belfast they have their top players available.

'In terms of the ICC WT20 Qualifier, that will make sure the best teams reach next year's event, rather than the teams with the most top players available on that weekend in August, something that will then have a knock-on effect of enhancing next year's event.

'And with all county-contracted players available for a ODI against Full Members it will make the Associate side that much more competitive, making for a worthwhile experience for that Full Member as well as a great career-enhancing one for all the Associate players, even those playing regular county cricket.

'After all, runs or wickets against a top ODI team will obviously stand any player in good stead moving forward.'

Mr Clarke said: 'The ECB recognizes that nation versus nation is the lifeblood of cricket and its integrity must be protected at all costs

'One way of protecting that integrity is by ensuring that the top Associate players currently playing county cricket are available for their countries in all their mandatory commitments with Full Members and in prestigious events such as the ICC WT20 Qualifier. The ICC further recognises that this must also embrace and enforce the priority of all FTP events and ECB welcomes that position.

'Whilst we recognize the individual choice of players we will continue to proactively remind counties of their mandatory obligations in this regard and this will help to ensure our strong sport grows ever stronger,' he added.

The summary of the ICC's position on this matter is as follows:

  • The ICC's Executive Board has stressed that the concept of nation-versus-nation cricket is the lifeblood of members and this must always be given the highest possible priority.
  • It has further agreed that all parties compromise or fail to protect this belief at their peril.
  • This stance applies to all ICC Members.
  • The ICC has a Player Release Policy that counties/states/provinces must provide mandatory release for Associates players for certain matches including all ODIs against Full Members and the upcoming WT20 Qualifier event. This policy was first adopted by all Full Members in February 2005 and also goes on to encourage release for other matches, including the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
  • The ICC and its Members have been disappointed and concerned that the Player Release Policy has thus far not always been able to achieve its express aim of ensuring that Associates are at full strength for vital international matches. This has been unfortunate. The idea that an Associate Member is not at full strength when playing an ODI against a Full Member that is at full strength does not match the ICC's development objectives and is obviously not good for the development of the game.
  • The ICC's significant investment in the globalisation of the game across all of its 104 Members, and especially in regard to targeted assistance to the High Performance Associate Members, means that the nation-versus-nation priority principle must stand and that the aims of the Player Release Policy must be achieved.
  • The ICC would like to see all counties/states/provinces take a public and private position that
    1. players' careers would benefit greatly from representing their countries in such matches and events,
    2. those players' developing or on-going careers would not be adversely affected in any way by missing county/state/province matches for those internationals and
    3. performances in such matches especially those against Full Members would be held in even higher regard than performances in domestic cricket.
  • The ICC would like to see all relevant players and their clubs support the position as all of the above is in the best interests of the sport.