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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 18:28 UK

Kent lose Champions League place

Kent captain Robert Key (centre)
Kent skipper Key's disappointment after the final loss has been compounded

Twenty20 Cup runners-up Kent have been refused an invitation to play in the 3m Champions League but winners Middlesex will be allowed to compete.

Kent have two players from the rebel Indian Cricket League, and organisers have taken a hardline stance to exclude teams with ICL connections.

Essex - beaten by Kent in the semis - were offered as an alternative but organisers Cricket Australia declined.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was "bitterly disappointed".

The statement added: "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 as an alternative county to play in the Champions' League... the suggestion was also rejected by the organisers.

"The ECB has written to the organisers confirming that, subject to contract, the board has approved the participation of Middlesex on the proviso that the event is authorised and on agreed terms."

Justin Kemp and Azhar Mahmood are the two Kent players who figured in the ICL rather than the International Cricket Council (ICC)-ratified Indian Premier League (IPL).

Kent's chief executive Paul Millman said: "The most disappointing thing is that the players and the supporters won't have the chance to see Kent Cricket Club involved in such an event."

The formation of the lucrative Champions League is being played out at the same time as a battle between the IPL and the ICL in India.

IPL chairman Lalit Modi is one of the driving forces behind the Champions League and is also the vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Middlesex have been invited to join Australia's Victoria and Western Australia, India's Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, South Africa sides Titans and Dolphins, while Kent will be replaced by Pakistan's Sialkot.

The tournament is scheduled to take place between 29 September and 8 October, but it is still waiting for the ICC - the sport's world governing body - are yet to officially sanction the event.

The ICC has ruled no official events can be staged a week before or a week after a global event, but the Champions League is due to start only a day after the end of the Champions Trophy.

The BBCI, thought to have had an influential hand in the decision to omit Kent, says that as there are only domestic teams in the competition it should not be regarded as an international event.

England had expected to be a founder member of the Twenty20 Champions League event with voting rights and shares alongside India, South Africa and Australia but are now more likely to accept a role as a participant only.

The inaugural tournament will feature eight teams who will play 15 matches at three venues - Jaipur, New Delhi and Mohali - but that number will increase to 12 teams playing 23 matches in 2009.

see also
Middlesex ready for next crusade
27 Jul 08 |  Cricket
Middlesex win thrilling Cup final
26 Jul 08 |  Counties
England bag 50m Twenty20 bonanza
11 Jun 08 |  Cricket
New-look English Twenty20 agreed
16 Jul 08 |  Counties

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