ECB 'disappointed' by Kent exclusion

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The England and Wales Cricket Board have admitted they are "bitterly disappointed" after organisers of this winter's Champions League chose not to invite Kent to the tournament.

Ever since Middlesex beat Kent to win the Twenty20 Cup at the Rose Bowl last weekend, the ECB have been in negotiations to try and ensure both finalists are invited to the eight-team event.

Middlesex have been asked to complete the line-up alongside two teams from India, Australia and South Africa and a Pakistan team, but Kent have been excluded from the lucrative competition because they used two players – Justin Kemp and Azhar Mahmood – who have featured in the Indian Cricket League.

Despite negotiations this week, the ECB have failed to secure an invitation and admitted their disappointment in a statement yesterday. "Both the ECB and Kent are bitterly disappointed at this stance 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," said the statement.

The ECB even offered Essex, who were beaten in Saturday's semi-final by Kent, as an alternative. But that suggestion was also rejected, and the statement continued: "[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."