Sydney Thunder went within a whisker of signing Sachin Tendulkar.
The Thunder's prayers for a saviour to emerge from the ruins of last summer's disastrous season were almost answered when Tendulkar considered an ''attractive'' package from the former Cricket NSW administration to wear the team's lime-green colours.
Tendulkar was offered a deal to play for the Thunder over four weeks this season. It's understood Cricket NSW called upon the state government to use its connections in India to lure the maestro to the western suburbs.
Although there was interest from the star, it stalled and fell off the radar when Harry Harinath resigned as head of Cricket NSW early last year.
And as the Thunder prepare to regroup after another poor campaign, moves are under way to recruit local products Pat Cummins, Ben Rohrer and Doug Bollinger to galvanise next summer's roster.
Tendulkar, the greatest run scorer in Test history, was at the top of a ''hit list'' drawn up for 2013-14 by the state's old administration. Cricket Australia officials made it clear they were concerned by the way the Big Bash League franchise,
identified by the game's powerbrokers as pivotal for the development and future prosperity of cricket, was being run.
Despite improvements this summer, the franchise has not won a game since round two of the inaugural season. It was described as a ''basket case'' in 2012 after the side failed to win games, failed to draw crowds, invested most of its salary cap in Chris Gayle and David Warner and did not connect with the region, which is among the fastest growing areas in the nation.
When the Cricket NSW board, headed by Harinath, met to address the problems, Tendulkar joined Michael Hussey and Brett Lee on the list after it was acknowledged the franchise needed to attract big stars to engage the 90,000 people with Indian and subcontinent heritage in the area surrounding the Olympic Park precinct.
Hussey joined the Thunder and was the team's best player; Lee, who still has massive marketing appeal at 37, remained with cross-town rivals the Sydney Sixers while Tendulkar - who was toying with retirement from the international arena at the time of the offer - stayed in Mumbai.
Harinath, who stepped down from his posts as chairman of Cricket NSW and as a board member of CA after an overhaul in the organisation's administration structure last January, was understood to have travelled to India to meet with people described as ''extremely close'' to Tendulkar.
It is not known whether the opportunity existed for the current board to resume talks. Harinath refused to comment on his meeting with Tendulkar's representatives when contacted on Tuesday.
The Thunder are particularly keen to sign Cummins, Rohrer and Bollinger for the 2014-15 season. Not only are all three Twenty20 internationals who would balance the squad, they are also from the club's heartland in the western suburbs.
Cummins is out of contract at the end of the season. It is understood Perth wanted to extend his deal by a year but talks stalled after his latest injury. Cummins and Rohrer both left the Sixers after the 2011-12 Big Bash to head to Perth and Melbourne Renegades respectively, while Bollinger joined Hobart.
The story Sachin Tendulkar came close to joining Sydney Thunder in Big Bash first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.