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ECB keen for England prospects to play in Sheffield Shield after Ashes loss

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison wants to see English players given the opportunity to play in the Sheffield Shield

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England cricket chief Tom Harrison has written to his counterparts at Cricket Australia to ask if they would allow young English players to feature in the Sheffield Shield.

The Shield is Australia’s domestic first-class competition, but unlike the County Championship, the presence of overseas players is rare.

England spinner Mason Crane played a solitary game for New South Wales in 2017 after the state saw spinners Nathan Lyon and Steven O’Keefe called up for international duty.

Crane only got selected as he was already in New South Wales working with former Australia spinner Stuart MacGill and playing grade cricket for Gordon Cricket Club.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison wants to see English players given the opportunity to play in the Sheffield Shield
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Philip Brown/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old became the first overseas player to feature for New South Wales in 32 years and picked up five wickets in the match.

Harrison is now keen for more young players to get the opportunity to play first-class cricket in Australia, following England’s latest Ashes humiliation.

Speaking on BBC Test Match Special, Harrison said: “The reality is we need to be spending a lot more time with players in Australian conditions.

“I’ve had a number of conversations with Cricket Australia and have written formally to Cricket Australia to ask if they would consider allowing us to put players into Sheffield Shield cricket, for example, as one significant change that we can bring to bear.

“We’ve had to cancel a lot of individual player preparation plans – which would have involved time in Australia – due to the [ Covid-19 ] pandemic, because effectively, Australia has been closed, and a number of other tours that were planned to enable us to get in better shape for this tour have had to be shelved.”

Mason Crane appeared for New South Wales in the Shield in 2017, but opportunities for overseas players have been few and far between
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Delly Carr/Getty Images)

Former England bowler Isa Guha believes it would be a good move, telling News Corp: “There’s a few good cricketers doing well in the BBL from England, and I think they could have a huge impact on Sheffield Shield cricket as well.

“Fans and broadcasters want a contest… surely it’s in the interest of Cricket Australia to say, ‘yep, some of your players who are going to be part of the Ashes can come here and play in our Sheffield Shield for a few games.'”

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