The battle to secure the prized signature of South Africa superstar AB de Villiers could turn into a KFC Big Bash League bidding war.
The Hobart Hurricanes have thrown their hat into the ring, following reports the Sydney Thunder are attempting to lure de Villiers to Australia this summer.
The Hurricanes’ power play won’t be for BBL|07, with both of Hobart’s international slots believed to already be assigned to two yet-to-be-revealed players, but new Cricket Tasmania chief executive Nick Cummins believes the club will be in a strong position to land de Villiers for BBL|08.
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Cummins had previously tried to sign the Proteas ODI captain during his time in charge of the Thunder, but he believes having a South African in Gary Kirsten as Hurricanes coach could give the Tasmanian team the edge.
"I've been talking to his manager for the past two years while at the Thunder, so we just change the colour of that conversation and continue those conversations," Cummins said in Hobart on Friday.
"We've obviously got an inside running with Gary Kirsten. I've had a chat with Gary and he's going to sound out AB as well.
"There's an existing relationship with AB there, and I think we are as good a chance as any team".
Last week, News Corp reported the Thunder had the batting dynamo firmly in their sights for this summer, with de Villiers currently weighing up his future in Test cricket.
The 33-year-old, who hasn’t played a Test since his twin ducks against England in January of last year, is due to meet with Cricket South Africa this month to make a final decision on his participation across all formats at international level in the coming years.
A Thunder spokesperson told cricket.com.au that talk of the club’s interest in de Villiers was simply media speculation, but did confirm they were targeting a class batter to fill an international spot on the list.
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Cummins, meanwhile, is not convinced the Thunder would be able to secure de Villiers this summer.
"I would be surprised if AB played Big Bash this summer," he said.
"It would be difficult to have the amount of money that he would command remaining in your salary cap so late into the piece.
"Certainly from a salary cap perspective next year, he's a player that we would be able to afford to get," he said.
"If the Thunder get him this season, then well done. They better make sure they keep him happy because we will certainly be having a chat with him next year."
The Hurricanes have confirmed eight players from their BBL|06 team will return, while they are also believed to have signed two overseas players to replace Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara and England quick Stuart Broad.
Speaking with the Hobart Mercury earlier this month, Cummins provided a couple of hints, suggesting neither player had been aboard the ‘Cane train before, although one had prior BBL experience.
Current Hurricanes squad: James Bazley, Cameron Boyce, Dan Christian, Hamish Kingston, Ben McDermott, Jake Reed, Clive Rose, Beau Webster.