The proposed Big Bash League (BBL) draft for overseas players has been postponed for another year due to the ongoing uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cricket Australia on Wednesday confirmed the schedule for the 11th season of the Big Bash League, which will run from December 5 until January 28. Initially pushed back from the 2020-21 season, it had been hoped to get the system up and running for this campaign but instead overseas players – up to three per club – will be signed in the traditional way.
Officials are hoping to leverage Australia’s six-Test summer, which includes the Ashes against England and a historic first-ever Test against Afghanistan, to not only boost the international players in the BBL but also further lift television ratings after the competition attracted its biggest ever broadcast audience last season. This season’s schedule will include eight ‘mega days’ where Test cricket during the day will be followed by a BBL double-header at night.
The presence of England and Afghan players in Australia for international cricket will also help fill out the international rosters of BBL clubs, with the league facing a challenge to attract overseas talent given the ongoing border restrictions and quarantine requirements.
“We really like the idea of an overseas player draft and it’s something that will be on the agenda again next year,” Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash Leagues, told ESPNcricinfo. “But when we’ve considered the continuing challenges with overseas travel and the need to give players and clubs some certainty, we’ve made the call to postpone it for another year.
“There’s always different opinions and that’s what we love about sport broadly. Across the board our clubs are aligned on the model, it’s just clear this isn’t the year to try it. We are still incredibly confident we’ll get great players in.”
As with last season the group stages will finish with a triple-header although overall only four days have been shaved off the overall length of the competition (59 down to 55). Once the tournament starts there are only four days – the first three of the Adelaide day-night Test and Christmas Day – without matches in the regular season.
Australia’s strict quarantine requirements and slow vaccine rollout has already led to the postponement of the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, while the Australian Open tennis in January is also no certainty to go ahead. (ANI)