Ajinkya Rahane to join Leicestershire: It’s a major show of ambition on and off the field from Leicestershire, home to perennial Championship cellars.
While the structure of the 2023 county season is still unknown, Leicester is understood to have agreed on a deal with Rahane for Championship cricket and the Royal London Cup (subject to IPL commitments).
The signing of Rahane – who has previously played briefly for Hampshire – serves a dual purpose for Leicestershire. He should be a solid run-scorer and provide strong leadership to an experienced squad, but will also strengthen ties with the region’s large Indian population.
Leicestershire is winless in the County Championship this year, the bottom of Division Two, 37 points behind eighth-placed Sussex.
However, the presence of 18-year-old spin prodigy Rehan Ahmed in their ranks has given reason for optimism. He scored a maiden century and took his maiden five-wicket haul in his most recent match, against Derbyshire. He is exactly the type of player to whom Rahane can provide vital guidance.
Rahane, 34, is currently not in the Indian team but has played 82 Tests and 90 ODIs. As vice-captain for a long time, he regularly stepped in for Virat Kohli, including a memorable series win in Australia in 2021.
Indian players have played county cricket with increasing regularity in recent years. On Monday, another struggling county, Sussex, announced that Cheteshwar Pujara would return to Hove in 2022 after an impressive spell.
County cricket has also seen Mohammad Siraj, Krunal Pandya, and Jayant Yadav (Warwickshire), Shibman Gill (Glamourgan), Washington Sundar (Lancashire), Umesh Yadav (Middlesex) and Navdeep Saini (Kent) involved in the past year.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is set to allow its players to compete in four-day events outside India, but not in T20s, in a bid to retain the lead of the IPL, the world’s biggest short-form competition.
The England and Wales Cricket Board would love to have Indian players in the men’s 100 but is currently unable to secure them. However, it is a credit to the county competitions that the Indians continue to explore the opportunities it presents.