Liam Livingstone and Trent Boult were big early signings in the inaugural BBL overseas draft, but five of the 12 platinum players went unselected, including Andre Russell and Faf du Plessis, as clubs put a strong emphasis on availability while working within their salary caps.
As expected, Rashid Khan was retained by Adelaide Strikers when Melbourne Stars picked him after Melbourne Renegades had taken Livingstone with the first selection of the night. Sydney Sixers were able to bring back two players from last season, Chris Jordan and James Vince, while Perth Scorchers also had a familiar feel with Laurie Evans and Tymal Mills after passing on a platinum pick as had been suggested they would.
“Our plan was always to retain Rashid. Wonderful player, wonderful person,” Strikers head coach Jason Gillespie said. “He’s been brilliant for our franchise over a number of years, and absolutely delighted to have him back.”
The tournament will go head-to-head with the new South Africa and UAE T20 leagues during the congested January window with many of the bigger names having already signed for one of those competitions which, for the leading players, can still provide more money for a shorter tournament. Alongside Russell and du Plessis, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Jason Roy were the platinum players not selected.
The one platinum player with full availability, England’s David Willey, was taken by Sydney Thunder, who will also have Alex Hales again, in what looked like a good night’s work.
There was a strong Pakistan connection at Hobart Hurricanes, who have Ricky Ponting as head of strategy, with all three of their players coming from the country as they utilised Darren Berry’s PSL knowledge after he joined Hurricanes’ new coaching staff earlier this year. They went for legspinner Shadab Khan as their platinum pick before taking Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf.
“He’s a high-class international leg spinner, he’s very handy with the bat as well, and he’s a gun in the field,” Ponting said of Shadab. “So we think we’re bringing in a three-dimensional cricketer. It looks like he’s got reasonable availability.”
“The challenge the BBL teams have faced the last few years has been the international players coming in and out,” Ponting added. “You get two or three games out of one, and then you have to try to fill that slot with someone of a similar role and ability, and that’s pretty hard to do. And if these players are coming in and out, you’ve got to have money to fill their voids as well. When you’re trying to balance the salary cap, it’s not easy to do.”
On Scorchers’ decision to not go for a platinum player, head coach Adam Voges said: “Availability is a real key for us. We know what type of player we want, the skill set we want…we love guys coming back who have played for us before and fit into our group really well.”
Aaron Finch, Australia’s limited-overs captain and a Renegades player, was delighted with his team getting Livingstone.
“It was a no-brainer for us,” he said as he joined the coverage from Townsville. “What he offers with the bat is exceptional. And what he delivers in the field and with the ball, being able to bowl legspin and offspin, I think he’s a beautiful fit for the Renegades.”
There were certainly some intriguing selections throughout with Strikers taking Colin de Grandhomme in the gold round and Sixers going for young Afghanistan spinner Izharulhaq Naveed as their final selection.
English county players with good availability were popular with Luke Wood (Stars), Adam Hose (Strikers) and Ross Whiteley (Brisbane Heat) getting picked up while West Indies left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein was Renegades’ last selection as they went spin-heavy after getting Livingstone early on.
There was some movement, too, with Mujeeb Ur Rahman going from Heat to Renegades, and Heat getting Sam Billings who could have been retained by Thunder along with Colin Munro who was with Scorchers last season.
From Monday, teams can start signing replacement players, who can come from anyone nominated in the draft, to fill spaces created by initial selections who will miss parts of the BBL. With each team having taken three overseas in the draft, they have four slots for replacements.
How the draft played out
Melbourne Renegades Liam Livingstone, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Akeal Hosein
Melbourne Stars Trent Boult, Joe Clarke, Luke Wood
Brisbane Heat Sam Billings, Colin Munro, Ross Whiteley
Sydney Sixers Chris Jordan, James Vince, Izharulhaq Naveed
Adelaide Strikers Rashid Khan (retained), Colin de Grandhomme, Adam Hose
Perth Scorchers Laurie Evans (retained), Phil Salt, Tymal Mills
Sydney Thunder David Willey, Alex Hales, Rilee Rossouw
Hobart Hurricanes Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo