BCCI has extended their “guest players” rule to junior cricket for the forthcoming domestic season. The board has for a number of years now allowed domestic teams at the senior level to field “professional” or “guest” players.
Indian cricket is bracing up for its most populated domestic calendar yet, with 9 new teams joining the original 27 this year across all age-group levels. And the board has decided to ease the load on the newer teams, especially from the north east, by allowing them to bring in players from elsewhere to ensure that they have enough quality in their junior ranks to be competitive. All the state associations around the country were informed about the board’s decision in a circular sent by BCCI general manager cricket operations Saba Karim, which has been accessed by The Indian Express.
“An association will be allowed to include three guest players (from areas outside their jurisdiction) in their squad. Only three players will be permitted to figure in the playing eleven of a team at a given point of time. The last date for a state association to register the guest player will be 1st September 2018,” Karim wrote in his letter to all state associations. That leaves the associations with less than a handful of days to bolster their ranks.
There have been enough signs that the new teams will find it very tough to put up a decent-enough squad based purely on their homegrown talent. Having the opportunity to bring in guest players will if anything is likely to strengthen their base.
Based on the Lodha Committee’s recommendation, six-north eastern teams-Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram — were drafted into the domestic cricket calendar across all age-groups. Bihar, Uttrakhand and Pudhucherry will be the other three teams joining them in the burgeoned domestic setup. Karim further wrote, “A player seeking transfer should write to the Hony. Secretary of the Board along with the NOC from the parent association & acceptance letter from the association he/she wishes to represent for the current season.”
While it’s been common practice for teams at the senior level to rope in “professionals” from other parts of the country—only last week Mumbai veteran Abhishek Nayar signed up for Puducherry for example—it remains to be seen how many junior players are prepared to jump ship at that nascent stage of their respective careers. Meanwhile, the BCCI has zeroed in on Gujarat as the venue for the North East state teams to play their Vijay Hazare Trophy games and has asked the state association there for availability of grounds.