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how will it work, how much can players earn and can star players be retained?

After two years of planning and delays caused by Covid-19, the BBL has finally unveiled an overseas draw for the upcoming season. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the overseas draft?
BBL teams no longer go privately looking for their three foreign players. They will select a minimum of two or a maximum of three from a concept likely to be held on one day in August. The draft is only for the foreign players. Domestic players are contracted in the same way as always.

How do foreign players nominate?
Players can nominate their prize tier and their availability in terms of the number of games they can play. The BBL will again be a season of 14 games plus finals and CA is realistic that not all overseas territories will be available for the entire competition. There is a nomination window between June and August. Players are divided into four categories: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The players can choose to participate in the Gold, Silver or Bronze band. Platinum players are determined by the BBL based on nominations and are paid an estimated $AUD 340,000. A significant portion of that will fall outside the $AUD 1.9 million salary cap, with Cricket Australia completing the deal through a marquee. That money is a fixed amount and is paid out regardless of whether the player makes himself available for six or 14 matches. There are no match payments in the BBL as players are contracted with fixed advances.

Gold players earn approximately $AUD 260,000, Silver $AUD 175,000 and Bronze $AUD 100,000. As with the Platinum category, a portion is paid by the club within the limit and CA will contribute a bonus beyond the limit, but CA’s share of marquee payments is not consistent across all categories, with Platinum receiving a greater bonus than Bronze. The categories relate only to price, not to availability. Players can therefore nominate to be available for the entire tournament in the Bronze category, or for half of the tournament in the Platinum category. Their availability is their currency and teams will have to decide whether a Platinum player with limited availability is worth selecting.

What is the draft order?
There will be a weighted lottery to determine the order. The three teams that missed the finals last season – Melbourne Renegades, Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Stars – are entered into a raffle for the first three draft picks. Renegades, who finished last, will have three chances to make the first draft pick, Heat two and Stars one. The order of the next five picks is chosen from a second pot containing last season’s finalists. Again, the lottery will be weighed. The fifth-seeded Hobart Hurricanes will have five chances to make fourth pick, Sydney Thunder four, Adelaide Strikers three, Sydney Sixers two and defending champion Perth Scorchers one. Picks five to eight are drawn away in the same way. Once the order has been established via the two weighted lotteries, the first two rounds of the draw will run in order from one to eight. Round three runs in reverse, so team eight gets two selections in a row (basically 16 and 17). Round four will resume in normal order. So team one gets two selections in a row (choices 24 and 25).

How does the concept work?
There are four rounds of draft with each team getting one pick per round. Clubs can fold if they don’t want to choose in certain rounds, but they must choose a minimum of two or a maximum of three players at the end of round four. The first round is for Platinum players only. In round two, teams can choose Platinum or Gold players. In round three, teams can select gold or silver players. In round four, teams can choose silver or bronze players. Teams are not required to select a Platinum player.

Can foreign players currently affiliated with BBL clubs be kept?

Yes, they can. But only one. This could be called the “Rashid Khan rule”. For example, Rashid has spent his entire BBL career with Strikers, but will almost certainly become a Platinum player and be available to everyone in the first round. If Renegades get first pick in the lottery and select Rashid, Strikers have the option to use their retention to keep him. Attackers should pay the same amount and use their pick in the first round to keep it. Renegades would then be given the chance to choose again. Players like Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman at Heat, Alex Hales at Thunder and Haris Rauf at Stars could be retention picks given their strong ties to the teams if they nominate in the draft.

Are there changes taking place?
No, once the draft order is set, it will stay that way.

What about substitute players?
Each team can sign up to four replacement foreign players (or five if they only hired two players in the draft) if their picks in the draft are no longer available due to injury or international duty. An additional $AUD 50,000 replacement bonus will be available to clubs used outside the salary cap to recruit replacement players. However, replacement foreign players must be nominated to the draft and to qualify for the $50,000 teams, they must have selected a Platinum player. If a team picks two Platinum players, they are eligible for a $100,000 salary cap. Teams cannot privately tell foreign players not to nominate for the draft and then sign them as substitutes. They must have been initially available to all teams in the design before being available as a replacement.

Are the list formats the same?
Yes. Clubs will have contract lists of 18 players, comprising 15 Australian players and three overseas players, although teams may have 16 local players and a minimum of two overseas players. Any replacement foreign players will be added on top of that.

What about non-contracted Australian players?

There is a possibility that Australian international players will be available for large parts of the upcoming BBL. The Australian limited-overs specialists will be available for the first half of the tournament and could be there the whole time if the three-game ODI series against South Africa, scheduled for January 12-17, is cancelled. The Australian Test players will miss the first part of the tournament, but will be available from 9 January at the end of the Sydney Test against South Africa. Multi-format internationals such as David Warner, Pat Cummins, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green are players who do not currently have BBL contracts with clubs. If they are available and a club does not have a full list or needs a replacement player abroad, clubs can use the $50,000 replacement bonus, plus any space in their salary cap, for Australian players to sign them for the back of the tournament . This ensures that the farcical situation with Smith and Sixers last season will probably be avoided.

Will the overseas version be televised?
The BBL is in talks with rights holders Channel Seven and Foxtel about broadcasting the concept. If neither network chooses to show it, the concept will likely be streamed online.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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