Plot thickens around McLaren
Off-field issues dominated the crucial Championship clash between Kent and Surrey as the rain fell at Canterbury on Friday.
By Simon Dilger
Last Updated: 06/09/08 2:54pm
As rain saw just 13 balls bowled by the half-way mark it was off-field issues that dominated the pivotal County Championship clash between Kent and Surrey at Canterbury on Friday.
For the hosts, who have seen their County Championship title hopes severely dampened by two days of rain against relegation-threatened Surrey, it was the intense speculation surrounding Ryan McLaren's status as a 'Kolpak' player.
For the visitors it was confirmation that veteran former England ODI batsman Ali Brown would be released after 18-years, together with talk of a possible move to the club by South Africa coach Mickey Arthur.
Arthur, also at the centre of the McLaren controversy, has been linked with a position at Surrey that is at present occupied by Alan Butcher, the cricket manager at The Oval.
The McLaren situation is beginning to occupy minds at Kent, thanks largely to Arthur's revelation that he contacted him following the Proteas' 4-0 NatWest Series rout by England.
Kent have made it clear that McLaren has been playing for them since last year on the basis he will not play for his native South Africa and is 'committed' to English cricket.
The pace-bowling all-rounder has also sought to set the record straight saying he is yet to hear directly from South Africa.
"I haven't personally been approached by Cricket South Africa," he said.
"No-one has called me on the phone - that has all been hearsay and media speculation - but I know my agent has been contacted.
"My stance at the moment is that I'm totally committed to Kent, and there's a chance of me signing a contract extension in the next few days.
"I can't decide on anything until such time they phone me up or sit around a table with me to make a decision from there.
"This supposed interest from South Africa has only come to light in the last week and a half.
"But the new contract offer from Kent has been in the pipeline for some good time.
"It was first discussed weeks ago and is in place; it's agreed, and we intend on taking it further because I'm looking to settle my future with Kent.
"This has all happened because South Africa did not perform as well as they will have wanted in this last one-day series.
"And in realising this is a phase their international team are going through right now while younger, newer faces come through."
Graham Ford, Kent's South African director of coaching, offered further clarification on McLaren's contractual situation.
He said: "Ryan signed an affidavit when he went through the process of signing for us as a 'Kolpak', committing himself to English cricket and saying he wouldn't be playing for South Africa.
"He also has a two-year contract in place with Kent, meaning that if he were to be released to play for South Africa, I would imagine some dealings would have to take place at higher levels than mine.
"At this point, he's permanently contracted to us and there has been no official approach to us about Ryan's availability."