Cricket Australia (CA) is set to introduce a draft for international players to enter the Big Bash League (BBL) to give the league a chance in a crowded international T20 league market.
The plans have twice been affected by the pandemic. However, with more certainty around the 2022-23 season in terms of COVID-19 issues, it is hoped that the player draft will revitalize the BBL's chase for international stars.
The BBL has hosted a mix of international names such as Rashid Khan, Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Alex Hales in recent seasons. But the draft is set to pave the way for more international names to perform Down Under while also proposing a more commercially viable solution for CA.
Currently, discussions between local teams and overseas clubs are done privately, with negotiations not centralized by the league. It essentially means interest from star players is only generated if a deal is struck.
With the new model, it is hoped players will nominate themselves while clubs will bid for them in a similar fashion to the Indian Premier League auction (IPL). There will be a television event, promoting the depth of talented cricketers interested in plying their trade in the Australian domestic competition.
The concept would provide extra money to attract overseas players, with the expectation that the draft funds will sit outside each club's salary cap.
Newscorp mastheads reported this week that the BBL will unveil a three-tier system, whereby players are ranked as platinum, gold, silver or bronze. In order to combat player availability issues, platinum players will be paid $340,000, gold players will earn $260,000, silver $175,000 and bronze $100,000.
Previously, international players had been turned off from playing in the BBL with smaller remuneration - in relative terms - the main deterrence.
However, some stakeholders remain reticent about the concept.
Established international names such as Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers) have long associations with BBL franchises, with players and franchises alike in these cases wanting concessions to allow players to return to their club of choice. It's understood that the option to retain up to two players before the draft will be considered.
There are also complexities over how a club would handle an injury or suddenly-unavailable international players.
The BBL is now at an important crossroads, with new domestic leagues popping up, an ongoing player unavailability issue, and a new TV deal in the works. A solution to all its pitfalls is seemingly to attract a suite of high-profile players, both financially viable and achievable by implementing the international player draft.
It's an innovation that is expected to inject some goodwill into the league in a watered-down approach that could circumnavigate more drastic measures such as privatizing the tournament.
Big Bash League boss Alistair Dobson labeled the 2022-23 season 'as one of the most important'. The international player draft could be a major barometer of how the competition fares this summer.