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News Analysis

Availability not a worry, Hundred hotspot, American Anderson: Six takeaways from the BBL draft

Several key themes emerged, some predicted, some not, from the second edition of the BBL overseas draft

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
04-Sep-2023
The second edition of the BBL draft provided some interesting tactics and themes on Sunday night and teams appeared to have a better handle on the draft mechanics and their own strategies after the novelty and unknowns of last year's inaugural draft. Here are six of the key takeaways.

Availability wasn't a major worry

All the talk coming into the draft was that BBL clubs would prioritise the availability of overseas players above all else to the point where several clubs hinted they would only take ILT20 players who could play all 10 home and away games, instead of players signed up for the SA20 that starts earlier in January, or players who were likely to have international duty during the BBL. That situation did not eventuate.
Rashid Khan and Quinton de Kock were both taken in the first four picks despite not being available beyond January 5 while England's Test tour of India in mid-January did not prove a major deterrent with Harry Brook, Zak Crawley and Rehan Ahmed all snapped up. Tom Curran, Chris Jordan and Haris Rauf could also be called away for international limited-overs duties, and yet all three were taken in the first nine picks. Clubs appeared happy to take the best players on offer and will back themselves to find replacements if and when they need them.

Three clubs only take two overseas

The WBBL draft was plagued by passes in the third and fourth rounds as seven of the eight clubs only took two overseas players due to the bespoke direct nomination rule. There was a similar spate of passes in the BBL draft despite no such rule being in play. But clubs were allowed to take only two overseas and then sign a third at a later stage, provided the player had nominated for the draft. Melbourne Renegades, Perth Scorchers and Sydney Thunder all took this option. The major reason for only taking two players is flexibility.
One of the negatives of the draft from a club perspective is that they are locked into signing a player in September when so much can change in terms of injuries and availability between now and the start of the tournament in December. The negative from the BBL's perspective is the later rounds of the draft can fall flat when there are more passes than expected. It may be something the BBL needs to look at next year.

Loyalty remains valued despite retention being tested

There were two intriguing storylines into the draft with Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat both set to be severely tested by other clubs given they could only use one retention pick. Sixers had three retention options among the platinum players in Curran, Jordan and James Vince. Hobart Hurricanes tested Sixers' mettle early using pick three on Curran knowing they could get one of the others. Sixers bit straight away, retaining Curran. Hurricanes then took Jordan, filling their need for a bowling allrounder. It left one of the BBL's most consistent overseas performers in Vince up for grabs to any club who wanted him for 10 straight picks. But no one took him, and Sixers were able to pick him at pick 14.
Similarly, there was pre-draft talk of a club potentially trying to force Heat to choose between Colin Munro and Sam Billings. In the end, Heat didn't have to use their retention pick on either. Billings was actually available to Hurricanes at pick 11 but they opted for Heat's other retention pick in Sam Hain and Heat let him go, then took Billings with pick 15.
Eight players - Vince, Munro, Billings, Rauf, Adam Hose, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Alex Hales, and Laurie Evans - returned to their previous club without a retention pick needed. Only two were used to retain Rashid and Curran, and only four players - Hain, Jordan, Brook and Crawley - were selected by a new club. Despite the BBL wanting more player movement, loyalty, familiarity, and culture remain strong forces among the BBL clubs in selecting overseas players.

Hundred is the BBL's major overseas recruiting farm

The two competitions are closely linked with so many Australian administrators, coaches and players working across both competitions. It should be no surprise then that so many of this year's draftees have come from the Hundred. Eighteen of the 21 players drafted played in the Hundred including eight from the two finalists, Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals. Player of the tournament Jamie Overton will make his BBL debut this year after being shrewdly selected by Strikers.
Pakistan gems still sought-after commodities
Pakistan players have long been attractive prospects for BBL clubs and quite often it is those just under the international radar that are the most sought after following the success of Rauf. Two more get to follow in his footsteps in Zaman Khan and Usama Mir although unlike Rauf, both have already played international cricket and have been appearing in a number of leagues around the world this year alone. Stars are hoping Mir will fill the huge spin hole they have and become a cult hero bowling his fast legspin at the MCG, while Thunder have added Zaman. Thunder's selection was especially bold at pick 13 given the number of high-quality fast bowlers available.
American Anderson not a forgotten man
Hurricanes' head of strategy Ricky Ponting said moments after selecting Corey Anderson that he was "a forgotten man" in global cricket. The former New Zealand allrounder has not played an official T20 since August 2020 having not featured in international cricket for New Zealand since 2018 after announcing his intention to qualify for USA. But Anderson, 32, has re-emerged this year in Major League Cricket for San Francisco Unicorns, a team run by Cricket Victoria and coached by former Australia allrounder Shane Watson, who is a close friend of Ponting.
Hurricanes captain Matthew Wade also played with Anderson and witnessed firsthand his stunning 91 not out off 52 balls where he torched a MI New York attack featuring Kagiso Rabada, Trent Boult and Kieron Pollard. That was enough for Hurricanes to take him with their third pick and they hope he can replicate those feats on the small dimensions of Bellerive Oval in Hobart.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo