Peshawar Zalmi celebrate their victory over Quetta Gladiators in the 2017 PSL Final

The growth of T20 leagues - like the Pakistan Super League, which has had two seasons so far - has emphasised the need for better structures in international cricket © AFP

The Federation of International Cricketers" Associations, the global players" body, wants to start a conversation about one of the main instruments though which national boards control a player"s rights to practice his trade freely: the no-objection certificate (NOC).

FICA"s call to relook at the regulation that governs player participation in domestic T20 leagues such as the IPL comes as the impasse between Australia"s players" union and Cricket Australia (CA) deepens. The dispute in Australia, if not resolved before June 30, could leave Australia"s top cricketers out of contract. And as David Warner has made patently clear, there are plenty of T20 leagues out there which would be happy to employ him and his team-mates.

As things currently stand, however, even if they are not playing for Australia, the players and the league they intend to play in require an NOC from CA to participate. FICA put forward a hypothetical situation whereby a board "might now attempt to rely on existing ICC regulations to restrict players who are not contracted from playing in domestic T20 leagues" and argue that it may constitute a restraint of trade, open to legal challenge.

Section 32A in the ICC"s operating manual is the relevant one dealing with the matter. It makes clear that the NOC applies to all players, whether or not they are contracted by their member board (so it would apply to cricketers such as Warner, even if he was no longer centrally contracted by CA) and even if they are retired.

But, FICA argued in a statement, the changing landscape of cricket means that the idea of an NOC should be revisited.

"As it stands, the ICC does have some existing regulations on the provision of "No Objection Certificates" to players who wish to play in a domestic T20 league," Tony Irish, FICA"s chief executive, said in a statement. "These however were not specifically agreed with the players, and, given where the game now stands, we think a new framework is required. To the extent that a Board might now attempt to rely on existing ICC regulations to restrict players who are not contracted from playing in domestic T20 leagues, FICA believes that would be open to legal challenge in most jurisdictions as a restraint of trade."

The NOC regulation - which first came into being around the earliest days of the IPL - is applied across the board, for all leagues and all members, and is in place essentially because all members have agreed that international cricket takes priority over domestic leagues.

But the Australia dispute, said Irish, reinforces its firmly held view that better, more workable structures need to be created for international cricket, one that allows for peaceful co-existence with T20 leagues. Those structures are being worked out, though the growth of T20 leagues is making that difficult

"In a better global cricket structure, which includes proper competition structures for the three formats of the game, we also believe some form of global regulatory framework agreed with the players and their representatives would be a positive," Irish said. "We have flagged with the ICC, and Boards with whom we engage, the co-development of a framework that would protect both the game and the players, and balance the interest of international cricket with T20 Leagues.

"FICA stands for fundamental rights of players to freedom of movement and for players to play where they are valued. Because of the way the game is structured, there is more than one market open to players. It would be patently unfair not to allow a player to compete in one market, when he or she is not employed in the other. FICA will support appropriate player challenges to country Boards that attempt to prevent players from earning a living in markets where they are valued."

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