John Emburey could be forced to retire from first-class cricket, despite being cleared to resume his long playing career by Lord's yesterday.
The 43-year-old England A manager, who left Middlesex during the winter to become Northamptonshire's coach, has been told he can only play on as a list one registration.
Emburey, who won his 64th Test cap last summer, has been confirmed as list one because he was offered a two-year contract by Middlesex.
The veteran off-spinner and his new county must now decide whether his on-field qualities, and his age, justify them using up one of only two precious list one registrations that are allowed in any five-year period.
This is a form of transfer control and indicates that the previous county is disputing the departure of a valued player to another county.
Steve Coverdale, Northamptonshire's chief executive, said: "We will have to sit down with John during the coming weeks and review how it leaves us."
Emburey said that he was "disappointed" by the Lord's ruling, indicating he wanted to be free to play occasionally for Northants while concentrating fully on his new coaching duties.
In particular, he felt there would be times when his on-field presence could be more beneficial to younger players.
Still fit after 24 years in county cricket, Emburey reckons he might do a job for Northants for several more seasons, but today's ruling means he will have to commit himself to virtually full-time cricket if he decides to play on.
The Test and County Board's registration committee, said they would "consider the matter again as and when Emburey decided to retire from first-class cricket and his registration was cancelled".