Raina urges BCCI to clear way for Indians to play BBL
Former international star Suresh Raina has called on India's authorities to ease restrictions on players and allow them to compete in T20 competitions outside of the IPL
Cricket Network with AAP
11 May 2020, 02:57 PM AEST
Suresh Raina has urged India to soften its stance on releasing players to foreign Twenty20 competitions, such as the Big Bash League.
India's female stars have previously featured in the Rebel WBBL with Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur among those to have played in Australia.
But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has blocked any active male player under its umbrella, regardless of whether they have a national contract or are close to national selection, from joining a T20 franchise outside the Indian Premier League (IPL).
A change in that policy is remote but would help raise the standard of foreign players in the KFC BBL, one of many concerns that local broadcasters have flagged recently, and one raised in a report on the BBL by former TV sports executive Dave Barham.
Finding a window for Australian superstars to play as much BBL as possible remains a more pressing concern for BBL bosses, with the likes of David Warner, Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins playing no part in last summer's competition.
The prospect of the centrally-contracted Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma (the only two Indians to have scored more T20 runs than Raina) padding up in the BBL is non-existent, but Raina, an IPL stalwart who represented India on 322 occasions, is the sort of non-contracted talent who could be on the radar of BBL clubs if the BCCI changed tack.
"I hope the BCCI can get together with the ICC or with franchises and allow players who don't have BCCI contracts to play in overseas leagues," Raina said in an Instagram Live chat.
"Yusuf (Pathan), myself, Robin Uthappa – a lot of quality players (could) ... go overseas and learn a lot.
"We aren't in the BCCI contracts list, some of us don't have IPL contracts.
"We aren't playing international cricket, and the competition in domestic cricket isn't what it is at the international level.
The aggressive-hitting left-handed 33-year-old was picked by Ricky Ponting in his 'best IPL team of all-time' in a 2017 exercise.
"His strike rate is unbelievable, he's a very consistent player, he's a gun fielder and he can bowl some part-time off-spin if required as well," Ponting said of the India star who last played international cricket in 2018.
While this summer's schedule remains clouded by the COVID-19 pandemic, India are expected to play limited-overs matches as well as the marquee Border-Gavaskar Test series, and Raina said fringe players could benefit by playing in the BBL.
"If we can get three months of quality cricket, whether it's the CPL or the Big Bash ... it can help us stay ready (for a national call-up)," Raina said.
"Players from other countries are able to play in these leagues, and a lot of them have made international comebacks after doing well in them."
Last summer saw veteran South African stars AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel all suit up for BBL clubs.
Steyn used the tournament as a springboard to relaunch his T20 international career with the Proteas while de Villiers had hinted at coming out of international retirement for this year's T20 World Cup.
Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa are among the Australian stars to have declared they would love to see Indians in the BBL, but Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts suggested last year it is "not something that we're specifically focused on".
However it appears Raina will find few sympathetic ears among Indian cricket's administrators. The IANS news wire quoted an unnamed BCCI official rubbishing the idea, claiming Raina was acting out of self-interest.
"One usually finds these views emanating from those who can see the wall of retirement approaching, and it's only natural," IANS quoted the BCCI official as saying.
"That's their view. It's the luxury of having the freedom of a tunnel vision with a view to further their own interests, and that's absolutely fine.
"From the point of view of the board and the interests of Indian cricket, the intent is to ensure a system where the non-contracted players are able to command good value at the IPL auction. Exclusivity is the key."
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has joined Sri Lanka in offering to host this year's IPL season after it was postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19.
If the T20 World Cup in Australia is cancelled or postponed, IPL organisers are expected to shift dates to that October-November window.