Rules permit clubs to draft outstation marquee players at any stage of the first division season

An outstation professional cricketer, roped in by a club to figure in the TNCA first division league, need not be signed before the deadline for inter-club transfers (June 30).

He can, as revealed by the TNCA, be registered 72 hours before a match at any stage of the competition. This includes the semifinals and the final.

The fact that these cricketers are ‘professional’ means they do not have to be employed with any team either — unless a side wants to feature them in BCCI’s Corporate Trophy.

First division champion Chemplast has already employed Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel (both India cricketers), Manan Vohra, and Sheldon Jackson, since it wants to feature them in the Corporate Trophy, the biggest domestic tournament in this category. Only those employed with the business house that runs a team can take part in the Corporate Trophy.

Each side can have a maximum of two outstation players, but Chemplast has signed four since it has two teams, Jolly Rovers and Alwarpet.

Similarly, India Cements has three sides, Vijay, Grand Slam and UFCC (T. Nagar) in the first division league. It can sign six outstation players.

There may be a situation where someone like India captain M.S. Dhoni, already employed with India Cements, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara or Virat Kohli, turns up for a semifinal or a final.

Different views

There are some who believe such a scenario would dilute the competition.

“One of the basic ideas to bring back professional cricketers was to enable them guide the younger cricketers of the State, and lift the standards of the competition, particularly in bowling. If these stars are only going to make guest appearances, it will do little to enhance the quality of cricket in the state. It will also give a big advantage to teams with more money and clout,” one of the officials of a team said.

There was a different point of view as well.

A TNCA official said: “The presence of marquee names in Indian cricket, even if it is for a brief period, will lift the profile of the first division league. More people will come to watch the game.

“Let’s be realistic. In today’s scenario, when even the domestic cricketers are so busy, it is hard to find good cricketers for the league.”

“Even some of the players signed are going to be busy with India A’s tour of Australia in July and will miss a lot of matches in the first set of games. Instead of paying these cricketers money for the entire season, teams might find greater merit in spending the same amount of cash on bigger stars for a short duration.”

Given that the naming of the outstation cricketers is not mandatory, either ahead of the season or even well into the league, a lot of teams are keeping their options open for the crunch time.

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