DORSET Cricket League officials have introduced a controversial new rule affecting Premier League teams, Echosport can reveal.

Teams in Dorset’s top tier with a bye weekend may now, in lower divisions, only field two players with six or more Premier League appearances in 2021.

Bye weekends have been caused by the late withdrawal of Shroton from the Premier League.

The sudden new directive is aimed at Premier League clubs who may wish to bolster other sides involved in promotion or relegation battles.

Several Premier League teams have already boosted their second strings with numerous Premier League players this season.

Insiders at some of those clubs have raised concerns over future selection problems – caused by injuries or unavailability – which may be amplified by the new rule.

However, lower-league clubs are generally pleased the rule has come into force.

READ MORE: Shroton pull out of Premier League

Echosport has obtained an email sent to the remaining nine clubs in the top flight by the Dorset Cricket Board.

It reads: “You will all be aware that this is a unique season in many ways, but in particular the fact that we have a nine-team Premier League due to Shroton’s very late withdrawal.

“The consequences of this are that each club has a ‘bye’ week.

“As the season reaches its second half, there is the natural inclination to strengthen lower teams in the club, particularly those involved in promotion/relegation issues.

“The League Management Committee have had a long discussion on this issue, in addition to looking at rules in place in ECB leagues around the country.

“As a result, we have introduced a ‘special rule’.

“During the second half of the 2021 season, any Premier League club which has a bye week will only be allowed to play a maximum of two players, who have played six or more games in the Premier League during the 2021 season, in a lower division.

“There is no perfect answer but we feel this is the best short-term solution.”