CPL offers Hales and Rashid first glimpse of white-ball freedom

Alex Hales and Adil Rashid will have their first opportunity to test the flexibility of their new white-ball county contracts, after being included in the draft for the Caribbean Premier League that takes place in London on March 1.

The tournament, which runs from August 8 to September 16, will clash with the group stages of the T20 Blast, which conclude on August 17, and for which both players will be expected to turn out for their respective counties, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire (outside of their involvements in England's T20 and ODI series against India in July).

But thereafter, depending on their counties' progression to the Blast quarter-finals (which take place from August 23 to 26), the two players should be free to play in the final month of the CPL, when the county season reverts to red-ball Championship cricket.

One further stumbling block would be the final of the respective competitions. The Blast's Finals Day is scheduled for Edgbaston on September 15 with the CPL concluding one day later. In the event of either player making the final of both competitions, their county duties are expected to take precedence.

"Alex is entitled to enter the draft but he certainly won't be missing any Outlaws matches to compete in it," said Nottinghamshire's coach, Mick Newell. "If we were to qualify from the group stages of the Blast, Alex would be available for the knockout matches to follow. There is a chance he could head out to the Caribbean around the knockout stages but that decision will come closer to the time."

A precedent for competing in both the Blast and the CPL concurrently was set by Kevin Pietersen in 2014, when he commuted between duties with Surrey and St Lucia Zouks. However, the more condensed nature of this year's itinerary means that such a scenario is unlikely.

"Adil has put himself forward for the opportunity," a Yorkshire spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "He will only play in the CPL if and when the county have been knocked out of the Blast competition."

A total of 227 overseas players from 18 countries have registered for the draft, an increase from 151 from last year, and this year's tournament window means that all West Indies national team players will be available to play in the full event for the first time.

"We are delighted with the response that we have had to the Hero CPL draft this year," said Pete Russell, the CPL's chief operating officer. "Every year we have seen an increase in the standard of players who want to be part of the Biggest Party in Sport, and 2018 is no different."

In addition to Hales and Rashid, the draft will also include a number of prominent international players from around the world, including Brendon McCullum, Chris Lynn, Mohammad Amir, D'Arcy Short, Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Hashim Amla and Shahid Afridi.