The Asian Cricket Council has announced that it will now be mandatory for teams to include three members in the playing side who are passport holders of the country they represent in its tournaments, and no team will be permitted to field more than two players in the under-four-year-residency category.
This ruling will initially apply to Under-16 sides but the aim is to roll it out across all age groups and eventually senior sides.
The number of qualified players used to boost sides, as opposed to home-grown talent, has been a concern for a long time and continues to be so. The USA side at the recent ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers was almost entirely made up of players from the Caribbean and the subcontinent, while some other Associates and Affiliates have at times had as few as one player who could not be considered an expat.
"If cricket is to put down roots and grow and break out of the relatively small cradle in which it currently is placed in many countries, it has to be played by, taken up by, as significant and substantial a part of the population as possible," a statement on the ACC website said. "Cricket is increasingly an Asian game yet at the same time, it cannot be a game for the people connected to just a few Asian countries."
The ACC's decision had an immediate impact, causing Qatar and UAE to withdraw from the ACC Under-16 Elite Cup.
The UAE are particularly unhappy with the new regulations because local laws make it hard, and in some instances impossible, for some people born in the Emirates to gain citizenship.