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BBL hopes to get ahead of new rival T20 leagues with early overseas draft

The BBL will aim to make a leap into the new rival T20 leagues emerging in the UAE and South Africa by hosting the first overseas draw in August in a bid to secure early-stage leading players as it tries reinvigorate competition.

The tournament announced a new overseas recruiting model on Wednesday with top foreign players who will earn $AUD 340,000 and be given the opportunity to nominate the number of games they want to be available for in December and January without committing to the entire tournament. . tournament.

It has been difficult for the BBL to match the riches offered in the UAE and possibly South Africa, as well as even the BPL and the PSL, as the league is tied to a salary cap of $AUD 1.9 million for an 18 year old male squad and for a competition that is considerably longer. But players can nominate for three prize tiers – gold, silver and bronze – with an additional platinum tier for the biggest names. Cricket Australia will contribute a significant amount to each pay scale to be outside the limit to help the clubs.

There is no official date for the draft, but it is clear that it will probably be held in August, up to four months before the start of the BBL season. The tournament will again be a full 14-game home and away season likely to run from mid-December to the end of January, with game schedules to be announced in July. There is a need to ramp up competition ahead of the next TV rights deal, with the current deal expiring in 2024 after a few difficult years exacerbated by Covid-19.

An August draft is not ideal for clubs, who prefer it to be held closer to the season so that they have more clarity about their needs and player availability. However, BBL General Manager Alistair Dobson and BBL Player Acquisition and Cricket Adviser Trent Woodhill both believe the earlier draft will give high-profile overseas stars clarity and options to commit themselves to playing in the BBL before the competitions of the BBL. UAE and South Africa are set up in what will be a crowded calendar for January.

“We are keen to provide players, agents and clubs with a timeline that gives confidence and allows them to plan their year and have confidence that the BBL is a place they want to come and play and that we know they are looking forward to. ,” Dobson told ESPNcricinfo.

The BBL is confident they can bring in some big names after early fruitful discussions with agents.

“It’s actually been very positive,” Woodhill told ESPNcricinfo. “I feel there is clarity. Players want certainty. Player agents now have the opportunity to celebrate their players and then work with the clubs to promote their players. The clubs are given a choice. And I think that it really fits the competition.” And I’m sure they’re going to get some really good names.

The league previously left the recruitment of foreign players to the clubs to do privately. But Woodhill believes the draft will increase fan interest in the process as clubs decide who to select based on who is now out in the open.

“Having a draft makes it light,” he said. “It is more difficult for the clubs to fire a high profile player and they have the option to include him or pick someone else in the draft.

“I like that there is a choice. The choice for the player in which band they nominate, but also a choice for the clubs to see how they fit into their existing domestic team. And then explain why they did that. You always want to know why teams have gone for a spinner or a fast or an all-rounder or maybe a frontline bat so I’m excited to see the club’s stance and the club’s explanation of why they chose a big name over a Others.”

The only downside discussed among players is that the design doesn’t allow foreign names to choose where to play, with a summer residence in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on the beachfront proving a popular recruiting tool for Sydney Sixers pre-Covid, for example.

Clubs have also historically been reluctant to pay large chunks of the salary cap to star players for short-term contracts, with some clubs preferring to recruit lower-level foreign players for specific roles over a full season. Andre Russell had a short stint with Melbourne Stars last year and they missed the final, while AB de Villiers’ six-game stint at Brisbane Heat in 2019-20 was also unsuccessful.

On the other hand, last year Perth Scorchers recruited the lesser-known Englishman Laurie Evans for a very specific role in the middle class. He was available to play with Scorchers throughout the campaign for less money and eventually became Player of the Match in the final, filling exactly the role he was recruited for.

Initially, there was some urge and attraction from the BBL and the clubs as the concept concept was put forward with clubs still eager to do their own tailor-made recruitment. However, clubs were happy to work with the league to come up with a concept model that would allow clubs to use one retention choice so that teams like Adelaide Strikers can keep Rashid Khan even if another club designs him.

Clubs will also not be forced to hire a high-money platinum player who is only available for a short period of time if they prefer to recruit a lesser name in a silver or bronze category for the entire year. Dobson, Woodhill and the clubs met weekly via Zoom to discuss the mechanics of the design.

“We’ve been consulting with clubs for a long time and they’re excited about what the design brings,” said Dobson. “I think there’s a little bit of anxiety around the pressure and it’s new territory for clubs when it comes to live on draft day or draft night and I think we’re excited to see how they handle that.

“Obviously, success is the quality of the players we bring in. But not falling far behind is the amount of interest and stories we can tell and speculation and debate and possibly controversy that goes around that, because we think that’s all that goes.” are a good run-up to the start of the BBL season.”

Woodhill, who was formally the list manager at Melbourne Stars and has worked on auction strategy with Royal Challengers Bangalore during his time as a coach at the IPL, had no doubts about what his approach would be if he entered the draft with a club.

“You can’t underestimate the star power,” Woodhill said. “Some teams see it as a year-round approach. I would look at how many wins we need to get to the top five and then I’m looking for the best possible player in the draft to help me do that. if it’s seven games, then we have to get the seven games, so that’s my first goal.

“So it’s hard to look past an Andre Russell, a Sunil Narine or a Kieron Pollard, Faf du Plessis, because they win a lot of Player of the Match awards. So I’d aim high.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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