Second-tier foreign teams playing unofficial matches in India has been in practice for some years now. The BCCI had, in the past, asked all the state associations to seek its approval before hosting sides. So far, the board's affiliated units hadn't taken the directive too seriously.
The issue was taken up strongly at the BCCI's working committee meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday. DNA has reliably learnt that the BCCI has shot off a letter to its affiliates, telling them it had been "kept in the dark" about such activities. The board feels that such matches (or training) sessions are also organised by private agents who have connections with the state associations. It's of the view that the number of unregulated tourneys have increased of late.
The BCCI has now directed its affiliates to get a formal clearance even for mundane club matches involving foreign sides. The board also reminded them that the law has been in effect but continues to be disregarded.
England Performance Programme (EPP) team's recent tour of Mumbai may have acted as a trigger. Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Craig Kieswetter are some of the familiar names in the side that played trial matches against the DY Patil Sports Academy. The three players are also doing duty for England in the ongoing ODI series against India. The Netherlands also played a series of tour games against the EPP at the Pune Club Ground.
"To be honest, we didn't know that such a rule exists," a vice-president of a state association told this paper. "It was the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) who hired the ground. They (EPP) have been coming here for the past three years. Some matches were held in Pune too, and they have no standing at all. In fact, they can't be considered as proper tournaments. Only local players participate, so you can imagine the standard."
The board had also served a showcause notice to the Mumbai Cricket Association. Eventually, it was dropped after the MCA agreed that it would adhere to the norms.