Victoria’s domestic cricket campaign will have a distinct sub continental influence this season, with the Bushrangers to boast a champion Sri Lankan spinner as a player and an Indian property developer as their major sponsor.
Test and one-day wickets record-holder Muttiah Muralitharan was finally confirmed yesterday as the state's second international recruit - alongside West Indian Dwayne Bravo - for the Big Bash domestic Twenty20 competition in the new year. While both players are not eligible to play in October's Champions League international Twenty20 tournament and are committed only for this season's month-long Big Bash, they would be eligible to turn out at next year's Champions League if the team qualified.
In addition, the 37-year-old off-spinner could reshape Victoria's Twenty20 bowling attack, which in recent seasons has been well-served by the likes of pacemen Dirk Nannes, Shane Harwood and Clint McKay.
''It could be an all-spin attack, because really we've got [Brad] Hodge and [David] Hussey, [Cameron] White, Murali and also [Jon] Holland and [Bryce] McGain,'' coach Greg Shipperd said. ''Across the competitions Australian batsmen have shown some weakness in the past to spin, so the Victorian team will have many options in the competition.''
The Bushrangers have also overcome the loss of long-time major sponsor Carlton and United Breweries with a three-year agreement with Dubai-focused property developer Dheeraj and East Coast (DEC).
Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide said DEC - a major sponsor of the New Zealand national team - had approached Victoria before last year's aborted Champions League tournament in India. Talks had continued leading to the sponsorship for the Bushrangers men's team and VicSpirit women's team until at least 2012.
Dodemaide said it was the most lucrative sponsorship agreement in Cricket Victoria's history. ''I think this has cracked the boundaries of what state cricket was conceived as being. It's very much now on the international stage … and international companies are interested in being involved with us,'' he said. TheAge