THE presence of quality foreign players has been a plus point of local cricket for generations.

Not only on the field where they are a big part of the team, but off it too where simply coming from a different country can bring many benefits.

There are two players in a team who can come from another country to play for a village club: one is a professional and the other is an overseas amateur, although many leagues only permit one or the other.

Although clubs do not need to have both they often do for the aforementioned benefits.

While professionals can come from home or abroad, overseas amateurs do what it says on the tin and come from faraway places.

The other difference between the two is that professionals are paid and overseas amateurs aren't.

Well, the overseas guys are not supposed to be paid but local cricket being local cricket you would be hard-pressed to find anyone involved in the game to say hand on heart they don't believe they get some financial support one way or another.

The government now appear to be of the same opinion and are taking steps to prevent those from outside Europe coming in and getting paid.

They tightened the rules last year so to be classed as an amateur meant players must never have been, or had ambitions to be, a professional, or played at representative level for their town or region.

This caught out a number of clubs around the country who tried to sign the kind players from the traditional source spots of Asia, West Indies, Australia and South Africa whom they had always been able to sign before.

The rules allowing them in have tightened even more in the last couple of weeks.

They include clubs must not pay an overseas amateur's airfare or accommodation, and may not be allowed to engage the services of an agent.

So the upshot is any overseas amateur coming over here must pay hundreds of pounds for his own airfare, possibly thousands for his accommodation – unless he is allowed to live with a club member for free – he must never have played professionally or at a level which suggests he is very good, he must not have an agent and he must not have any ambition to be a professional.

The bottom line is the squeeze being put on bringing over an overseas player is potentially becoming too great for clubs to bother.

The government is apparently doing this to cut down on immigration.

They seem to think too many people were coming over here in the summer and illegally getting paid for playing local cricket.

To target amateur cricket to reduce illegal immigration could be seen as a bit like giving a naked man dying of hyperthermia a pair of swimming trunks to keep him warm.

Many within local cricket would argue the problem was hardly serious in the first place.

Overseas amateurs are seen as a vital part of the sport. They are over here for the summer for a good time and to play cricket.

They light up a club, bringing fun, a different culture, encouragement for young players, friendships that often last a lifetime and opportunities for local players to go over to their countries to play in our winter.

They also provide great cricket to watch and local cricket will be much the poorer without them.