Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland is leading the push to change the mainly Anglo-Australian face of cricket in the country by trying to encourage more players from the migrant backgrounds, as Pakistan-born refugee Fawad Ahmed considers an offer to represent Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.
During the conference of state associations last Friday, the CA resolved to change its regulations, broadening the definition of a local player to include those on track to become Australian citizens, to allow Ahmed to compete in the league.
A CA spokesman explained the proposal to accelerate the progress of talented young cricketers from diverse backgrounds was underpinned by a desire for inclusiveness, and would not influence the selection of elite teams.
"What we talked about at the chief executives' conference was when you think about where our traditional support lies, you could make a case for affirmative action around the identification and development of talent," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the spokesman, Peter Young, as saying.
"You would never see a national team selected on anything other than independent selectors' views about merit, but when you look at our pathway and the development of Australian cricket," he added.
"James is personally very committed to the issue of cricket being a sport for all Australians. We need to be Australia's favourite sport for men, women, children, for Sudanese immigrants and for any major group in the community that you can think of," he said.
Australian cricket has been slow to attract migrants from Europe and Asia, though progress has been made through initiatives such as Cricket Victoria's Harmony in Cricket program.
Usman Khawaja, the first Muslim to play cricket for Australia, has played six Tests and has made impressive strides in seeking to reclaim a spot in the team, while New South Wales fast bowler Gurinder Sandhu recently played at the under-19 World Cup, one of the few Australians of Indian descent to represent his country. (ANI)