Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
More overseas quality must be brought into the Big Bash via the introduction of a marquee player fund and draft before authorities can consider stretching the depth of the tournament by adding more teams, according to Melbourne Renegades title winning coach Andrew McDonald.
Expansion of the BBL to 10 teams or more was in Cricket Australia's long-term strategic planning but has been shelved for the time being as a number of other key issues need to be addressed.
The length of this year's tournament and the quality of players available is at the forefront of those issues, which also includes pitches and crowd numbers. The Renegades won the final with only one overseas player after Mohammad Nabi was withdrawn for international duty.
Speaking on ESPNcricinfo's Talking T20 podcast, McDonald said the BBL needed to look at allowing three overseas players per team to aid with the quality of cricket, but at the same time should not look to expand the competition even though eight fewer spots would be available for local players if the rules on overseas players changed.
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"Three overseas I reckon would be a start," McDonald said. "I think the depth of Australian cricket has been tested at the moment with eight teams. There was some talk of potentially 10 teams down the track. I would say steady on with that. Get three overseas in with each team and then really making the Australian players available."
The quality of overseas players available is another key talking point with rival leagues such as the PSL and BPL offering money well over and above what the BBL franchises can for shorter stints in shorter tournaments.
Cricket Australia is already looking at a marquee fund for key overseas signings that would sit outside the BBL's strict salary cap in order to try and attract the best talent from around the world for the entire tournament. McDonald believes a fund and a draft would be the best way to get those players to the BBL.
"I think the only way you could do that is to have a marquee [fund]," McDonald said. "[CA] is talking to us. Everyone is talking essentially. Our CEO is talking to us as coaches, that's going back up to Cricket Australia.
"We've identified that there is a problem or a potential problem, if we don't get it right going forward. I think the only way to do it is if we have eight marquee spots available, get 16 players from around the world to nominate, and then you have a marquee draft.
"Just have a lottery draft. Pull the Melbourne Stars out of the hat first, whoever out of the hat second and they pick eight marquee players, and those marquee players have to sign up for the entirety of the tournament.
"And I don't know what money that would take or cost, but that's the only way to do it. You can't change the rules and regulations on list management now because some of the teams have signed up overseas players for a couple of years, so we've got problem there. I think it has to be a marquee player that comes in from outside the cap and it's a lottery draft."