Big names brushed in inaugural BBL Draft as clubs side with availability over star-power

If you were hoping to see Kieron Pollard, Faf du Plessis or Andre Russell in action this summer, the inaugural BBL Draft on Sunday would have been a major disappointment.

Over 300 players from 20 countries were available to all eight Big Bash franchises, with four levels designed to separate the elite from the rest.

Pollard, du Plessis and Russell – along with the likes of Rashid Khan and Liam Livingstone – were all part of the ‘Platinum’ bracket.

But in a shock twist, the big guns were left undrafted by all eight clubs and will not feature in the 2022/23 season.

Instead, the clubs opted for availability throughout the tournament as opposed to star-power, leaving the likes of Russell and Pollard without homes.

BBL general manager Alistair Dobson said the first-ever draft was a successful one, welcoming a host of big names to the competition.

“The inaugural KFC BBL Draft was a resounding success and the perfect way to begin the countdown to the summer of Big Bash,” Dobson said.

“The league is delighted to welcome a host of the world’s biggest names to the competition, complemented by the next group up and comers.

“We’d like to congratulate all clubs on their recruitment and look forward to seeing the players put on a show for all fans at the game.

“Our thanks also goes to Fox Cricket, plus players and agents from around the world, for their support of the draft concept.”

And while publicly there is an aura of success coming from Cricket Australia, there is no doubt they will be privately seething with the outcome of the draft.

After its undoubted success in the early seasons, the Big Bash has become a stale product in recent years, with the governing body attempting every trick and gimmick under the sun in an attempt to draw in more crowds and TV viewers.

COVID obviously hasn’t helped their cause, but the overall product has dropped off and the length of the season has become a major issue that unfortunately can’t be fixed due to existing television rights.

In an attempt to boost crowds and ratings in BBL|12, the league were able to attract the likes of Pollard, Russell and du Plessis for the draft.

But the fact they went undrafted through two entire rounds won’t do their respective egos any good, and the chances of them putting their hand up again would have to be considered slim.

It’s easy to understand why the clubs opted for players who would be available for the whole tournament, but this is a major spanner in the works for CA and their broadcasters.

Russell, Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are box-office attractions. People tune in on TV or buy a ticket to the game solely to see them play.

The biggest box-office attraction of them all – Christopher Henry Gayle – is seemingly blacklisted from a BBL return, while Indian stars Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya are unavailable.

Melbourne Renegades were able to boost their stocks with the additions of Liam Livingstone and Mujeeb ur-Rahman, while the likes of Trent Boult and Asif Ali will play in the Big Bash for the first time.



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