Chetan Sakariya and Mukesh Choudhary will headline the overseas presence at the KFC T20 Max series in Queensland next month. They will also train at Cricket Australia’s National Cricket Centre in Brisbane and be involved in Queensland Bulls’ pre-season preparations, as part of the old exchange programme with the Chennai-based MRF Pace Foundation, which had been paused because of Covid-19.
Sakariya, 24, made a name for himself during IPL 2021, playing for Rajasthan Royals, and has turned out in an ODI and two T20Is so far while also playing for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2022, while Choudhary was impressive in his debut IPL season, this year, for Chennai Super Kings, picking up 16 wickets in 13 games. The two will be joined by three Papua New Guinea internationals: Norman Vanua, Chad Soper and Charles Amini.
Sakariya will play for Sunshine Coast, while Wynnum-Manly will have the services of Choudhary. Sandgate-Redcliffe have all the three PNG players – regulars with their national side, which finished third at the recent World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe – in their ranks. Vanua and Soper are medium pacers, while Amini is a legspinning allrounder.
There will also be a strong list of current or recent BBL players, some of them internationals, in the mix too: Jordan Silk, Beau Webster, Cameron Boyce, Ben Cutting, Liam Guthrie, Nick Larkin, Clint Hinchliffe, Josh Lalor, Nick Hobson, Jake Lehmann, Arjun Nair, Chris Sabburg, Nick Bertus, Ryan Gibson, Spencer Johnson and Nathan McSweeney.
In a note on its website, Queensland Cricket said, “Due to the popularity of the concept and a surge in the number of players expressing interest, Queensland Cricket today updated the competition rules to allow each Premier club to sign an additional interstate or international recruit, moving from three players per club to four.
“Several regionally based players have already brokered arrangements with teams, while contracted Queensland Bulls and Brisbane Heat players will be available for selection as part of their pre-season preparations.”
The tournament will be played over three weeks, from August 18 to September 4, at the club grounds as well as at the refurbished Allan Border Field, under lights.
Exchanges between the MRF Pace Foundation, founded in 1987, and Australia began in 1992, when the academy opened its doors to players from beyond India’s shores.
Among the first to come and train under Dennis Lillee, then the director at MRF, was Glenn McGrath, who later took up the directorship once Lillee retired after a 25-year stint in 2012. Fast bowlers from many other countries, including Mohammad Asif (Pakistan), Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka), Heath Streak (Zimbabwe), and premier quicks from Australia like Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, have all trained at the academy over the years. Similarly, young Indian quicks have been given the opportunity to spend time in Brisbane as part of the programme. The last of these, in 2019, were Prasidh Krishna, who has since played ten ODIs for India, and Mukhtar Hussain, the 23-year-old right-arm quick from Assam.