Michael Clarke opts out of Big Bash League
Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, will take no part in the Twenty20 Big Bash League this summer, preferring to concentrate on his international commitments.
Extensive negotiations between Clarke, his management and the Sydney Sixers were unable to reach a workable compromise between the batsman's desire for rest and preparation in between Test series and Cricket Australia's desire to have as many contracted players as possible taking part in the BBL. Clarke had also conducted talks with numerous other teams.
"With the greatest respect to everybody involved in the T20 Big Bash League, I will not be committing for this year," Clarke said in a statement. "My goal is to play Twenty20 cricket domestically, for sure. But at the moment, I want to prioritise my time and commitment to my role with the Australian team.
"We have a big six months ahead, and my commitment and focus is with those teams. I am also only available for one BBL game this year, and that was a consideration as well."
Clarke's decision means both he and Mitchell Johnson will sit out the competition, while every other CA-contracted player, including the likes of Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, take part.
As CA's most high profile figure, Clarke's absence from the BBL launch in Sydney next week will be notable, but the latest instance of his degenerative back problems, during a practice fixture at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane last week, provided a harsh reminder that physical management must be a priority for the national captain.
Stuart Clark, general manager of the Sixers, said Clarke's was a difficult decision, but a logical one in the circumstances that confronted him.
"Michael has chosen to concentrate on international cricket and I wish him all the best in that, we haven't shut the door on him playing for the Sixers in the future," Clark told ESPNcricinfo. "I think it would've been a difficult decision, he's got a lot to offer the BBL, but he's thought about it and decided to concentrate on the Australian team."
Mike McKenna, the BBL project owner and CA's head of marketing, said he could see why Clarke's decision had been made. "We understand and respect his decision," McKenna said, "and while we will miss him, the T20 BBL already offers fans a galaxy of international and national stars which will help galvanise fan excitement in year one."
Teams have finalised their initial lists of at least 14 players, with some squads having named their full 18-man groups. The remaining teams can wait until December to fill out their playing rosters. The Sydney Sixers have named England's Michael Lumb as their first overseas player, while in other final-day appointments, the fast bowler Ben Edmondson will return to Western Australia to play with the Perth Scorchers; Chris Swan has signed with the Brisbane Heat; and the Sixers locked in Dominic Thornely and Ian Moran.
The squads so far
Adelaide Strikers Aiden Blizzard, Cameron Borgas, Lee Carseldine, Tom Cooper, Adam Crosthwaite, Theo Doropoulos, Brendan Drew, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Michael Klinger, Nathan Lyon, Aaron O'Brien, Gary Putland, Kane Richardson. Overseas players: Kieron Pollard. Coach Darren Berry.
Brisbane Heat Ryan Broad, Nick Buchanan, Daniel Christian, Ben Cutting, Peter Forrest, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, James Hopes, Chris Lynn, Michael Neser, Chris Swan, (One further contract lodged, subject to approval). Overseas players: Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori. Coach Darren Lehmann.
Hobart Hurricanes Travis Birt, Mark Cosgrove, Xavier Doherty, Luke Feldman, Evan Gulbis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hogan, Phil Jaques, Matt Johnston, Jason Krejza, Nick Kruger, Ben Laughlin, Rhett Lockyear, Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting. Overseas players: Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Owais Shah. Coach Ali de Winter.
Melbourne Renegades Ryan Carters, Aaron Finch, Shane Harwood, Aaron Heal, Jayde Herrick, Michael Hill, Brad Hodge, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew McDonald, Brenton McDonald, Dirk Nannes, Nathan Reardon, Will Sheridan, Shaun Tait. Overseas players: Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi. Coach Simon Helmot.
Melbourne Stars George Bailey, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Jon Holland, David Hussey, Alex Keath, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Peter Siddle, Chris Simpson, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, Cameron White. Overseas players: Luke Wright. Coach Greg Shipperd.
Perth Scorchers Tom Beaton, Michael Beer, Mark Cameron, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ben Edmondson, Michael Hussey, Simon Katich, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Marcus North, Luke Pomersbach, Nathan Rimmington, Luke Ronchi. Overseas players: Paul Collingwood, Herschelle Gibbs. Coach Mickey Arthur.
Sydney Sixers Ed Cowan, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely, Shane Watson. Overseas players: Michael Lumb. Coach Trevor Bayliss.
Sydney Thunder Sean Abbott, Tim Armstrong, Nic Bills, Doug Bollinger, Luke Butterworth, Scott Coyte, Tim Cruickshank, Matthew Day, Luke Doran, Ben Dunk, Jason Floros, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Craig Philipson, Daniel Smith, David Warner. Overseas players: Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle. Coach Shane Duff.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo