Pragyan Ojha set for county stint in 2016/17 domestic season
At the recent series of BCCI meetings at Bengaluru, it has been decided that the Indian cricket board is to throw doors open for Indian players to be participating in some foreign leagues and foreign players to be also taking part as guests in Indian domestic competitions. According to reports, Pragyan Ojha is set to be the first high-profile beneficiary of this policy amendment.
Sourav Ganguly had proposed at the meeting last Sunday that Indian players be allowed to participate in the English domestic county season, and it is Bengal spinner Pragyan Ojha who has approached the authorities for permission to play in England in the upcoming domestic season.
It is understood that the former India spinner’s request has been approved, and that he is currently in the middle of negotiations with a few counties. "I have written to the BCCI," Ojha has confirmed.
A likely destination could be Surrey, the side for which Ojha had turned out in 2011, his 24 wickets in 4 games in the final few weeks of the season having helped the side guarantee promotion to the Division One of the LV County Championship on that occasion. However, Surrey have already signed Kumar Sangakkara as their overseas player this season, with Aaron Finch as the reserve overseas player.
Ojha, having played 24 Test for his country, had his world shatter around him in 2014 when his bowling action was found to be illegal and he was barred from competitive cricket. He had his action cleared soon, but this meant a big roadblock for his career.
Confusion over foreign participation in Ranji Trophy
Ojha attended sessions in Sri Lanka to modify his action. He moved from Hyderabad to Bengal in the Ranji Trophy, where he was used as the team’s leading spinner. It looks certain that Bengal will lose his services to a county team for the upcoming season, and it will be interesting to see if the 29-year-old can use his second county stint as a plank for another international comeback.
Ojha may also be one of the first cricketers from India to be plying their trade in foreign shores for the 2016/17 season. The decision to have emerged from the last BCCI meeting this week is that players who are not engaged with the national team or with the India ‘A’ team will be allowed to appear in foreign tournaments, excluding IPL-style T20 tournaments. At the current moment, the Big Bash League, the Caribbean Premier League and the Natwest T20 Blast are still out of reach for Indians.
"The IPL is not too fragile to be weakened by the rise other tournaments," commented a BCCI member, indicating that this too might change.
Another issue that was brought up in the last meeting was about the participation of foreign players in the Ranji Trophy. This issue has been deliberated upon many times in the past, and there was confusion as to why there were no foreign players playing in the league at present. Vikram Solanki and Enamul Haque are two overseas players to have played in the Ranji Trophy in recent years.
It has emerged that a technical committee headed by another former India player had stopped participation of the foreign players, contending that they will master spin bowling and get more used to Indian conditions.