Cricket: Dispute over Barnett's departure terms

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KIM BARNETT'S future with Derbyshire is hanging in the balance after the club refused to release him to play for another county.

Barnett, a former captain, has two years of his current contract to run, but had asked the Derbyshire chairman, Vic Brownett, if he could be released after 20 years at the County Ground.

Brownett originally gave what appeared to be an encouraging response, saying: "We had a talk about his future with the club and he did ask if he decided to move on, would the club stand in his way. I reported this to the cricket committee and I don't think we would stand in his way if he decided to further his career at this stage of his life, provided it suited both parties."

However, a few hours later the club issued a statement saying that the cricket committee "would not agree to release him should he simply wish to sign a purely playing contract at another county".

The statement added that the club would not stand in Barnett's way if he wished "to pursue a furthering of his career after his playing days ended - very much as Middlesex allowed John Emburey to leave in order to fulfil a coaching post at another county".

But Barnett, 38, said: "There was never any suggestion that I could only leave to go and coach somewhere else. It is obvious that, if I left, other counties would want me to play."

Further talks are planned between Barnett and Brownett to decide the former England batsman's future. Both Gloucestershire and Yorkshire have expressed an interest in him.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire members are organising a forum to press for answers about the future of Dominic Cork, who has threatened to quit as captain after claiming that his authority at the club has been undermined. The Derbyshire committee said no decision would be taken until Cork returns to England in February following the Ashes series.

Yorkshire are poised to strengthen their batting by recruiting Somerset's Richard Harden. The two-year deal is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.