Australian cricket chiefs are working on a plan to lure opener Sam Robson back home as they bid to keep him out of the clutches of oldest rivals England, reports said today.
Sydney-born Robson, 24, is the leading run-scorer in the English County Championship this season with Middlesex and the focus of an "Ashes-themed tug of war", Fairfax Media said.
Currently Robson, whose mother hails from the English city of Nottingham, cannot be chosen for New South Wales as a domestic player because although born in Australia, he plays county cricket on a British passport, the reports said.
But a rule change governing the eligibility of players with dual passports in domestic competitions, which needs the green light from Cricket Australia, would clear the way for him to join NSW later this year, Fairfax said.
There is significant interest from NSW where Robson's father, Jim, runs the indoor centre at the Sydney Cricket Ground and where the batsman often trains when playing Sydney club cricket during the southern summer.
NSW Cricket said in a statement to AFP: "Under the current rules, Sam is only allowed to play in Australian domestic cricket as a local player because he was born here.
"If he chooses to play here as a local, he must give up his position as a local player in (English) county cricket and would be considered an overseas player."
CA's plan, according to Fairfax Media, would involve Robson trying out for a call-up to the NSW state side for the first Sheffield Shield match of the summer.
He could then play against Alastair Cook's Ashes-winning team, with NSW scheduled to take on England in a four-day match in Sydney from November 13, a week before the first Test in Brisbane.
That could even put him in the frame for an Ashes call-up against England. The operation to bring home Robson, who has 993 runs and three hundreds in the County Championship this season at an average of 62.06, is believed to have been in full swing only for the past fortnight.
This came after it was announced he had qualified to represent England on residency grounds a year earlier than expected, Fairfax said.