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ILT20 Season 2: Hales, Russell, Narine, Hetmyer among top retentions

First-season finalists Gulf Giants and Desert Vipers, as well as MI Emirates have retained bulk of their players

The Gulf Giants players celebrate with the ILT20 trophy, Desert Vipers vs Gulf Giants, ILT20 final, Dubai, February 12, 2023

Gulf Giants are the defending champions at the ILT20  •  ILT20

Gulf Giants, the champions in the inaugural edition of the ILT20 in 2023, and Desert Vipers, the runners-up, have retained the bulk of their players for the second season, starting January 13, 2024. MI Emirates have done the same, while the bottom three from the first season - Dubai Capitals, Sharjah Warriors and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders - have opened up a lot of space in their line-ups.
Among the big names to be absent from the list of retained players are Moeen Ali (Warriors last year) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (Capitals last year), who have both moved to the SA20, which will run concurrently with the ILT20, with the BBL and Bangladesh Premier League also on at the same time.
"We have decided to retain 11 players, while keeping our backend team intact. We firmly believe in the power of continuity and stability, allowing our players to build upon their previous success," Andy Flower, the Giants head coach, said in a statement. "However, we also recognize the need for evolution and improvement.
"To maintain our winning mentality, we will carefully evaluate the performance and fitness of the retained players, ensuring they are still the best fit for our team. Simultaneously, we will actively scout for new talent, seeking individuals who can bring fresh skills and perspectives to the squad. This healthy competition will drive the retained players to continually raise their game."
Tom Moody, the Vipers director of cricket, said, "One of the main objectives in the retention process for 2024 was to retain a strong core of players that helped us reach the final in 2023 in the inaugural year of the ILT20.
"It is always difficult during retention time because ideally you would like to keep all our players from the previous year, but we thought it was important to make sure we had flexibility post the retention deadline for new signings, to continue to grow the squad and develop the squad for bigger and better things moving forward."
There is no change in the maximum total salary cap for the second season, which remains at US$ 2.5 million, with a minimum spend of US$ 1.5 million.
The teams - which can have a maximum of 22 and minimum of 18 players in their rosters - can start signing new players right away with the window for overseas players closing on July 31. "There was no restriction on the number of retentions for international players while the franchises could only retain a maximum of two UAE players," a press statement from the league said.
Moeen and Rajapaksa aside, most of the prominent names who were part of the action in the first season have been retained. This list includes Alex Hales, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shimron Hetmyer, Wanindu Hasaranga, Sikandar Raza, Rovman Powell, Chris Jordan, James Vince, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Trent Boult and Chris Woakes.

ICC to discuss cap on overseas players at T20 leagues

The ILT20, played under the Emirates Cricket Board, allows the most number of overseas players - nine - in the playing XIs alongside two local (UAE) players. A total of 12 overseas players are allowed in the squads, and they are signed directly by the six franchises.
The norm at T20 leagues has been to allow four overseas players in playing XIs. Apart from the ILT20, there are two other leagues that allow more: the CPL (five) and Major League Cricket (six), which will start in the USA on July 13.
However, some of the Full Member nations have objected to this player drain caused by the exponential growth of T20 leagues, some of them running parallelly. Examples of players opting out of central contracts with their national cricket boards to be part of these lucrative leagues are many.
In response, an ICC working group has recommended no more than four overseas players, including retired internationals, in a playing XI in T20 leagues. That recommendation is a key item at the ICC's annual general meeting, which began on Monday in Durban. The recommendation will be debated at the ICC's chief executives' committee initially before it is taken up by the ICC Board, which will meet on Thursday.

Full list of retained and released players

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders
Retained: Ali Khan, Andre Russell, Charith Asalanka, Joe Clarke, Sabir Ali, Sunil Narine, Marchant de Lange, Matiullah Khan
Released: Brandon King, Colin Ingram, Connor Esterhuizen, Kennar Lewis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Fahad Nawaz, Raymon Reifer, Paul Stirling, Brandon Glover, Akeal Hosein, Lahiru Kumara, Ravi Rampaul, Zawar Farid
Desert Vipers
Retained: Alex Hales, Ali Naseer, Colin Munro, Dinesh Chandimal, Gus Atkinson, Luke Wood, Matheesha Pathirana, Rohan Mustafa, Sheldon Cottrell, Sherfane Rutherford, Tom Curran, Wanindu Hasaranga
Released: Sam Billings, Adam Lyth, Benny Howell, Ronak Panoly, Jake Lintott, Tymal Mills, Shiraz Ahmed, Ruben Trumpelmann, Mark Watt
Dubai Capitals
Retained: Dushmantha Chameera, Joe Root, Akif Raja, Rovman Powell, Sikandar Raza
Released: Chirag Suri, Niroshan Dickwella, Hazratullah Zazai, Dan Lawrence, George Munsey, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Robin Uthappa, Fabian Allen, Ravi Bopara, Chamika Karunaratne, Yusuf Pathan, Dasun Shanaka, Isuru Udana, Hazrat Luqman, Fred Klaassen, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Jash Giyanani, Ollie White
Gulf Giants
Retained: Aayan Afzal Khan, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Jordan, Chris Lynn, Gerhard Erasmus, James Vince, Jamie Overton, Rehan Ahmed, Richard Gleeson, Sanchit Sharma, Shimron Hetmyer
Released: Tom Banton, Ollie Pope, C Rizwan, Ashwanth Valthapa, Liam Dawson, Dominic Drakes, David Wiese, Qais Ahmad, Tom Helm
MI Emirates
Retained: Andre Fletcher, Daniel Mousley, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Jordan Thompson, Kieron Pollard, McKenny Clarke, Muhammad Waseem, Nicholas Pooran, Trent Boult, Will Smeed, Zahoor Khan
Released: Vriitya Aravind, Basil Hameed, Najibullah Zadran, Lorcan Tucker, Bas de Leede, Tom Lammonby, Craig Overton, Samit Patel, Imran Tahir, Brad Wheal, Zahir Khan
Sharjah Warriors
Retained: Chris Woakes, Joe Denly, Junaid Siddique, Mark Deyal, Muhammad Jawadullah, Tom Kohler-Cadmore
Released: Chris Benjamin, Evin Lewis, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Dawid Malan, Alishan Sharafu, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, Mohammab Nabi, Paul Walter, Karthik Meiyappan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Noor Ahmad, Bilal Khan, Jamal Todd