A number of Asian countries are often at the top of lists of countries heavily criticised for their over-reliance on expatriate players in international tournaments.

The Asian Cricket Council has today shown that it is serious about development amongst the "native" population of those countries, starting with a change in eligibility rules for the ACC Under-16 Elite Cup that began today in Nepal.

All participating teams are now required to field a minimum of three passport holders of the country in every match.

In an announcement on their website, the ACC echoed the opinions of many by saying, "The fact of the matter is, if cricket is to put down roots and grow and break out of the relatively small cradle in which it currently is placed in many countries, it has to be played by, taken up by, as significant and substantial a part of the population as possible.

"Cricket is increasingly an Asian game yet at the same time, it cannot be a game for the people connected to just a few Asian countries."

It is intended that the number of passport holders will increase over time, and that this will be rolled out to the Under-19 and senior tournaments in the near future.

The policy had an immediate effect, with Qatar and the UAE both being forced to withdraw from the tournament in Nepal.

The UAE have criticised the ruling, as UAE nationality law even makes it impossible for some people born and brought up in the country to gain UAE citizenship. Mazhar Khan, administrator of the Emirates Cricket Board, told Gulf News, "Many talented cricketers in the UAE will not be able to play in ACC tournaments due to such a decision. A lot of youngsters who play cricket here are born and brought up in the UAE and they are being denied a chance by the ACC's decision."