Foreign players to be seen in domestic cricket
The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has plans to invite foreign players to play for the state this season though Ajay Shirke, the MCA president, denied media reports that Australian players like Matthew Hayden and Stuart MacGill had been considered for contracts.
"We are definitely considering outside players," Shirke told Cricinfo. "In fact we planned to hire some last year too but could not because of many constraints. But I would like to say that we have not finalised any names yet."
What they did achieve last year was hiring Darren Holder, a performance analyst who had worked with Australia's coach John Buchanan, as Maharashtra's coach and director of cricket. Maharashtra finished sixth in the Ranji Trophy last year with two wins in seven games.
"If the county circuit can have foreigners playing for them and making it more competitive, then why not us?" Shirke told The Indian Express. "Money has never been an issue and will never be. What is the point in saving money in the bank? We get a good amount from the BCCI and it is better if we put it to use."
Speaking to Cricinfo, Shirke clarified the amount that would be paid to overseas players. "Maharashtra already has a gradation policy in place since last year. It will be a substantial amount with the BCCI offering one lakh as match fees, apart from the MCA contract." The amount, though will vary, depending on the "statistics and performance" of different players, Shirke added.
Niranjan Shah, the Indian board secretary, was also receptive to the idea. "We want to bring in foreign players to play some of the Ranji Trophy matches," Shah said in Ahmedabad on Sunday. "We want to generate interest among the masses regarding Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy. We wish that more and more people go to watch these matches."
The last time overseas stars adorned the Indian domestic circuit was in the 1940s and '60s when first Dennis Compton and then the West Indies fast bowlers Roy Gilchrist and Lester King played.