A number of NCU Section One clubs are set to rethink their strategy on overseas players.
In a vote at the NCU’s annual general meeting on Monday night, a motion prohibiting nonresidents from playing below the NCU Premier League was defeated.
That decision is now set to spark a major rethink by clubs who opted not to employ an overseas player during 2017.
Of the 10 Section One clubs, eventual champions Armagh, Donaghcloney Mill and Lurgan were the only three to employ pros, although none with previous first-class cricket experience were permitted.
Clubs are entitled to bring in players from overseas who haven’t played first-class cricket before, and now the likes of Derriaghy, Downpatrick and Woodvale have big decisions to make.
Derriaghy, considered the pre-season favourites for promotion, found themselves surprisingly at the wrong end of the table before eventually pulling away from the danger zone. However, they lost a number of games by a narrow margin that could conceivably have gone the other way with a good overseas player in the ranks.
Downpatrick too struggled after a bright start, and the former giants of the NCU game will not want to have another brush with the drop to Section Two.
Lisburn, who have been relegated to the second tier for the first time since the 1980s, will also be faced with a difficult dilemma. The Wallace Park side were believed to be happy to go without a professional and trust in a promising group of young players. However, the hierarchy at the club may want to rethink if the bulk of their rivals have overseas players in their ranks.
New boys Laurelvale and Cregagh will also want to establish themselves in the second tier while Bangor at least have a proven performer in Taimur Khan, the veteran Pakistan all-rounder who is now considered a local.
Donaghcloney Mill, who had Rahul Desai as their professional, and Lurgan, for whom Avadhoot Dandekar scored over 400 runs, will likely continue with their pro strategies.