There has long been a certain paranoia amongst some in associate cricket circles of an associate cricket board being able to "buy" players from overseas in order to fill their national side with experienced players, thus getting a shortcut to success, particularly since the residential qualification period was reduced from a mixture of four/seven years to a flat three years for all players.

This paranoia was mostly unfounded as almost no associate board had the financial clout to do this.

However the ambitious people involved at American Cricket Enterprises - fast becoming indistinguishable from USA Cricket - behind the Major League Cricket project have undertaken something of a recruitment drive that looks like making that vision a reality.

Most recently New Zealand's Corey Anderson and Pakistan's Sami Aslam have signed contracts with MLC with a view to qualifying for the USA national side. Several South Africans have thrown their hats into the ring - something likely to continue now that the Kolpak route into county cricket has closed - and there have even been murmurs of England's Liam Plunkett, who is married to an American, making the move and turning out for the USA in the future.

This raises a question - should it be possible to essentially treat a national cricket team as a franchise team, recruiting players from around the world? Viewing this from afar it comes across as a rather cynical exploitation of the ICC's residential eligibility rules in order to gain an unfair advantage.

There may be some who, somewhat disingenuously, compare this to England's selection of players born overseas in recent years. In these cases, the ECB wasn't directly involved in recruiting the players, many already had English parentage and few moved to England with the express intention of playing for the national side. The USA recruitment drive is occuring in a completely different context.

There is also the question of whether this will help the US national team. Picking players who are no longer considered good enough to play for their country of origin - or who never were - does not sound like a path to long term success. Picking players from a South African second or third XI is unlikely to be the way to compete with the South African first XI.

There is a tendency amongst some involved in associate cricket to assume that anyone from a full member country is automatically better than someone local be they player, coach or administrator, ignoring local potential. Sometimes a hidden gem is found - the careers of Ryan ten Doeschate for the Netherlands and John Davison for Canada being the most obvious examples. But there's also players such as Stewart Heaney for Canada, recruited thanks to a Canadian birth and experience with the Australian Cricket Academy but only averaged 10.25 in four ODIs against Bermuda and Kenya and was summarily dropped. Within 18 months he wasn't even playing state second XI cricket in Australia.

Maybe these players will all succeed and make the US a great cricketing nation. But what if they fail and US cricket is set back because they've taken their eyes from local players?

So what is the solution? Completely removing the residential qualification isn't an option. Moving countries is commonplace these days. But is three years really enough when bringing in a player with first-class or List A experience elsewhere? I'd suggest it isn't and that such players should be subject to a longer residential qualification period, except where they have some sort of established link to the country.

It seems unlikely though that the ICC will make any changes. The USA has been a pet project for the ICC for several years, their eyeballs drawn by the large number of cricket fans living there, though whether all those fans would be interested in US cricket is very much up for debate. As long as a rule benefits them, it seems unlikely to change.