Sydney clubs eye test stars for BBL amid tight schedule

The door could be open for Australia’s all-format stars to join forces with KFC BBL clubs for this summer’s tournament, but a packed international schedule that includes a trio of Test campaigns within four months is the most likely obstacle to signing offers.

Players like David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, who were all part of the Australia team that won the T20 World Cup last year, are all currently without BBL contracts and Sydney clubs will try the traditional Thunder and ensure Sixers players are on their list for this season if interested.

This summer’s international schedule sees a three-game ODI series against South Africa between the New Year’s Test and the end of the BBL, but that campaign has yet to be completed after Cricket South Africa belatedly asked to postpone the series with the start of theirs new T20 league scheduled for January. Postponing this ODI series would also free up space on the calendar for Australia’s biggest names to return to the Big Bash.

But the most likely obstacle to their participation in BBL|12, particularly for fast bowlers Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc, is a strong summer schedule that begins in Townsville in late August and includes a T20 World Cup on home soil, five home Tests and will be followed by a Blockbuster four test tour of India followed in February-March next year.

“We’d love for our Australian players to attend,” said Chris Botherway, deputy manager of the Sydney Sixers. “Whenever they’ve been available they’ve always come back and played before, so I’ll see that again in the future when schedules allow.”

Attracting the best Australian players to the tournament is also high on the agenda for BBL boss Alistair Dobson.

“This season it looks like there’s a window to the back end where we really hope a lot of these players can play a few games and we’re working with our clubs to make sure they have a clear schedule “, he said.

Beyond this season, officials are looking for an opportunity to give Australia’s all-format stars a permanent window to attend the Big Bash in January, with a new international cricket Future Tours program to be unveiled later this year, and negotiations in preparation for the next memorandum of understanding between Cricket Australia and the players’ union.

Draft Statement: How Clubs Recruit Foreign Stars in BBL|12

Hazlewood’s last appearance in the BBL came when he played five games for the Sixers in 2019-20, which he says kickstarted his T20 career revival.

Smith, whose attempt to play for the Sixers in last year’s Finals series was turned down by league officials, also played four games alongside Hazlewood in BBL|09, hitting 120 runs on a 40 average as the club won the first of their two won -back title.

Test skipper Cummins’ last big bash match was in BBL|08, Starc last played in 2014-15, while Warner has the longest drought of this group, with his big bash absence dating back to 2013-14.

Following the announcement of a first overseas BBL player draft this week, the embargo on domestic contracts has also been lifted, meaning Australian players can officially sign new contracts.

While a draft date has yet to be set, it seems likely it will take place in late August, with Botherway suggesting that some domestic signings could be put on hold until it is known which overseas players have been drafted.

NSW captain Kurtis Patterson is out of contract with the Perth Scorchers and has been linked with a move back to one of the Sydney clubs, while veteran tweaker Steve O’Keefe is in negotiations to play a 12th BBL season .

Despite his blistering form in England’s T20 Blast, where he has batted for two centuries, Big Bash opportunities for Chris Lynn appear to be dwindling as the competition’s all-time top run scorer is yet to be discussed in any Thunder roster management meetings became .

The Hobart Hurricanes’ new chief of strategy, Ricky Ponting, also said that Lynn would not be the best choice for their team as Matthew Wade, Ben McDermott, D’Arcy Short and Tim David have established top order roles while BBL |11 -Winning coach Adam Voges said the Perth Scorchers are “a long way behind” in terms of their local signings and he was keen to reward players who performed well for them last season.

Rising young slugger Mac Wright is unsigned and it’s understood he’s keen to continue with the Hurricanes, but he’s also chasing consistent chances while Thunder duo Jono Cook and Chris Tremain are both unsigned.

Meanwhile, the Melbourne Renegades have previously expressed interest in veteran batter Jon Wells, whose contract was not renewed by the Adelaide Strikers at the end of last season, and Hobart Hurricanes’ Tom Rogers, who was out of contract.

James Rosengarten, the general manager of the Renegades, who have the best chance of getting the #1 draft pick in the weighted lottery draw, believes the draft will revolutionize the Big Bash.

“From a club perspective…we invested heavily in the concept design from the start and thought strategically about how to maximize this as part of our roster management process,” he said.

“Together with our head coach David Saker and our coaching staff, we’ve been working on our roster management strategy for the last six months to change things up on the field in BBL|12 looking at our national player mix and then how to complement that through the draft .”

Brisbane Heat head coach Wade Seccombe said they would try to capitalize their platinum selection on an influential player who has won tournaments in the past.

“That could be a top hitter, a pace bowler, a spinner, a mid-range finisher, or an all-rounder with our first pick…we’re going to look to leverage our draft position to maximize our enlistment return,” he said.

The Heat on Friday announced the signing of fast bowler Mark Steketee and young opener Max Bryant to two years.

Voges hinted that the Scorchers could get through the draft with their first pick, which would require them to select a platinum player (the highest pay bracket) in favor of internationals who are available throughout the tournament, while both Sydney clubs look forward to the draft nominations are first to determine which would complement their homegrown players.

Thunder boss Andrew Gilchrist said if the club could draft a couple of players who could offer something like the contributions from their recent caps in Sam Billings and Alex Hales then they “would be in a good place”.

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