The Pakistan Super League has announced that England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan and former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum have consented to be part of the player draft for the second season in 2017. The draft will be held in the UAE in October, during Pakistan's Test series against West Indies, while the tournament is slotted for February next year.
The PSL also stated that all five franchises had "unanimously agreed" to an increase in the total player salary cap of $1.2 million per team by a maximum of 9% for the next edition. The decision was reached after a meeting with franchises in Lahore on Friday.
PSL chairman Najam Sethi said more high-profile signings would be revealed over the next few days. "Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan are proven international stars who not only bring a wealth of international cricket experience but also bring invaluable leadership experience to the HBL PSL player roster," Sethi said. "While we have announced these two names, there are at least a dozen additional top-level signings that will be revealed in the coming days. It will be interesting to see how teams manage their retention and transfers given such quality additions to the player draft"
A player retention policy was among the outcomes of the meeting on Friday, with teams being allowed to retain up to 16 players from the existing squad, including those who did not play a game last season.
"It was decided that the teams may retain up to 16 players from their existing squads," the PSL said in a statement. "All players who were brought on board by a team, regardless of whether they played, are eligible for retention. The retention window will also provide teams with a chance to renegotiate with existing players and the window closes on September 14, 2016. The transfer window is concurrently open with teams in a position to leverage their draft picks and/or existing squads to find an ideal balance."
Last year, 310 players, including 138 from Pakistan, were drafted from five categories - Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver and Emerging - with the franchises signing international stars like Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy, among others. Previously, the emerging category had 59 Pakistan players regardless of their age or playing experience. For the second edition, however, the PSL management has an age barrier in place - players in the emerging category will have to be under 23 years of age as of January 1, 2017, and the franchise will have to draft at least one player from its home region.
The order of franchises in the draft was decided based on the first season's result. Hence, Lahore Qalandars, who finished last, will have the first pick in this draft followed by Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. Defending champions Islamabad United will have the final pick in every round.
In another important move, the PCB is in talks to rope in franchises that will buy out national regional teams for a year. ESPNcricinfo understands that the PCB and at least three franchises have agreed in principle to buy their respective regional teams for Rs 15 to 25 million each per year. The idea is still in a preliminary stage, but the move is a part of the PCB's plan to make regional cricket independent and self-sustaining.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson