New Zealand Cricket has classed Taranaki top order batsman and former Zimbabwe international Dion Ebrahim as a New Zealand resident from this season.
Ebrahim debuted as an overseas player for Taranaki in the 2007-08 season.
He has played and coached in the province for five of the last six years, returning overseas to take up work opportunities during the New Zealand winter.
Ebrahim has scored 1632 runs in 28 matches for his adopted province.
The normal criteria around overseas players being treated as New Zealand citizens is that they have to remain in New Zealand continuously for 18 months.
NZC has relaxed the rules in Ebrahim's case.
"Because Dion has got fulltime employment with Taranaki Cricket and is predicting to stay here long term, New Zealand Cricket have agreed to class him as a New Zealand citizen for the purpose of playing cricket," Taranaki Cricket Association chairman Neil Sulzberger said.
Teams can include one overseas player in the Hawke Cup and Chapple Cup competitions for minor provincial associations.
NZC's approval opened the door for Taranaki selectors Kerry O'Neill and Alistar Jordan to include another overseas player in their side if they chose to, Sulzberger said.
At least two clubs have already confirmed they will have an overseas professional in their premier grade ranks this season, which starts with the first round of the one-day competition on Saturday.
English allrounder Wesley Morrick has signed on for a second season as player-coach with New Plymouth Old Boys.
A sharp opening bowler, Morrick played for Old Boys last summer when he was their leading wicket-taker.
Also returning is another former Zimbabwe international, Douglas Hondo, who had a short stint with Hawera United towards the end of last season.
The 33-year-old is due back in Hawera from Britain shortly after seeing out his playing and coaching contract in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Hondo appeared in nine tests and 56 one-day internationals for Zimbabwe.
He wasted no time making his mark in the Taranaki competition last season, picking up 10 wickets on day one of a two-day match against Francis Douglas Memorial College and backing it up with a half-century.
The representative season begins this month with the Chapple Cup one-day competition.
It is scheduled to be played in Napier over three days starting on October 20.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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