Suspended former Australia captain Steven Smith has been named as one of ten marquee players for the proposed Global T20 Canada league set to start at the end of June in Toronto.
If the competition takes place as planned, it would mark Smith's first cricket since the ball-tampering controversy in Cape Town which led to him being stripped of the captaincy and suspended from international, state and Big Bash action for 12 months.
The other players punished after the Cape Town incident - Cameron Bancroft and David Warner - had previously confirmed their comeback plans. Bancroft was given dispensation to play in Western Australia's Premier Cricket league while Warner is set to turn out for his Sydney club side Randwick Petersham.
Along with Smith, the other marquee names announced include fellow Australian Chris Lynn, Pakistani allrounder Shahid Afridi, Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga, South African batsman David Miller and five West Indians: Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo. In addition, several marquee coaches were also announced including Phil Simmons, Tom Moody and Heath Streak.
The marquee names will be taken in the first two rounds of the 16-round player draft scheduled for May 26 with a total of 80 players chosen. ESPNcricinfo sources have stated that pre-assigned draft salary slots will start at USD100,000 for the first round marquee names and bottom out at USD3,000 in the final round.
Global T20 Canada tournament director and former Barbados Tridents chief executive Jason Harper announced at the league's media launch event in Toronto on Thursday that over 1,500 players have signed up to be in the draft pool for later this month. Conflicting information provided by Global T20 Canada's web site and press releases have mentioned one of three possible dates for the draft: May 26, 30 or 31. Sources have told ESPNcricinfo that players who signed up had to set a reserve price for the draft, similar to the CPL and they cannot be drafted in a lower priced round than their reserve price.
Even though the league has announced six teams, only five franchises will take part of the draft: Toronto Nationals, who hold the first pick in the draft; Vancouver Knights, Winnipeg Hawks, Montreal Tigers and the Edmonton Royals, who were originally named the Ottawa Royals in previous information posted on the Global T20 Canada website. The sixth team will be a Caribbean All-Stars side consisting of West Indian domestic players but none of the marquee West Indies players in the draft will be part of that squad.
The entire tournament will take place at Maple Leaf Cricket Club located in King City, Ontario, a small rural village 25 miles north of downtown Toronto.
Maple Leaf CC has no permanent seats or television facilities, meaning a temporary structures will need to be installed over the next five weeks to create the 7000 seat stadium structure that has been advertised on the league website in time for the first match scheduled for June 28. The tournament final is set for July 15, the same day as the FIFA World Cup Final in Moscow.