Big-hitters open up BBL draft nominations

With the draft little more than three weeks away, the first batch of nominations have been revealed

Six of T20 cricket's biggest hitters, all with Big Bash experience, are the first players to nominate for the KFC BBL|13 draft.

The group includes three players ranked among the ICC's top 15 T20I batters and marks the first release of talent to nominate ahead of the September 3 draft.

It follows the announcement last week that five international captains were the first public nominations for the Weber WBBL|09 draft.

Nominations for the BBL|13 Draft

  • Faf du Plessis
  • Laurie Evans
  • Alex Hales
  • Colin Munro
  • Nicholas Pooran
  • Rilee Rossouw

The availability the nominated players have set has not been revealed, but few of them are likely to be available for the entire season given the glut of international cricket and rival domestic T20 leagues over the BBL window.

Nicholas Pooran, who this week became the West Indies' second all-time T20 international run scorer after thrashing 67 off 40 balls against India, has nominated for a return after a two-season absence, having last played for the Melbourne Stars in BBL|10.

The Stars do not have retention rights to Pooran but do have first pick in the BBL|13 draft, and the wicketkeeper-batter could be a good fit, although the club did trade to bring in Sam Harper in a deal that sent Adam Zampa to the Melbourne Renegades.

The 27-year-old batter from Trinidad and Tobago has been in top form in the Windies ongoing T20 series against India in the Caribbean, coming off the back of his match-winning blitzkrieg in the inaugural Major League Cricket season in the US.

In the final, Pooran blasted 137 runs off 55 balls for the Mumbai Indians-controlled New York franchise, including 13 sixes.

His availability is expected to be for the back half of the season, and with the Windies playing ODIs and T20s against Australia from February 2, the prospect of a few weeks' work in the BBL before national duty could prove appealing to a number of players from the Caribbean. 

Those players will likely not be available for the start of the season however, with the West Indies scheduled to host England for white-ball series in December, with three ODIs from December 3 before a five-game T20 series that runs until December 21.

That series won't affect Big Bash regular Alex Hales who recently announced his international retirement, having returned to England's side for their run to the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.

Hales, with a BBL career strike-rate topping 150, was drafted by the Sydney Thunder in the second round last season for $260,000 – a similar position this year would net him $300,000 after an increase to salary bands.

Hales storm! Every six from a record-breaking season

The Thunder also drafted South African big-hitter Rilee Rossouw last summer, picking him up in the third round, and the 33-year-old, currently ranked fifth on the ICC's T20I batting rankings, has nominated again.

Rossouw comes with a big reputation but has not had the greatest success in the Big Bash. He had a disappointing BBL|10 with the Renegades, but rediscovered his form after that tournament in other domestic leagues, leading to an international recall with South Africa and his charge back up the batting rankings.

But in eight games with the Thunder last season he managed 127 runs at a strike-rate of 118.69 and average of 18.14, with 53 of those runs coming in one knock against his former club.

Rossouw launches four sixes in entertaining fifty

Faf du Plessis returns for a second attempt at being drafted – the South Africa icon was one of the highest profile nominations for the inaugural draft but was among a host of big names snubbed on draft night as clubs favoured availability of over reputation.

Du Plessis – like other draft night snubs – was eventually picked up as a replacement international, with the Perth Scorchers offering a lifeline and in seven games he hit 163 runs at a strike-rate of 153.77 for the eventual champions.

Faf du Plessis in action against the Melbourne Stars in BBL|12 // Getty

That lifeline came when Perth draftee Laurie Evans had his contract torn up following a positive anti-doping test shortly ahead of the BBL|12 season. Evans, who has denied any wrongdoing, had his ban temporarily lifted in March and the Englishman played in the T20 Blast for Surrey and is currently in action for the Manchester Originals in The Hundred.

Evans has nominated for this year's draft but an element of uncertainty surrounds his status – he was suspended by the ECB on November 1, 2022, for an alleged anti-doping rule violation after trace amounts of an unnamed banned substance were found in August last year. That suspension was provisionally lifted in March this year allowing him to resume playing, but the batter still faces a hearing later this year.

If cleared of the anti-doping charges, Evans will be a top prospect and potentially a high-priority target for the Scorchers, who have retention rights for the batter after he was pivotal in the club's BBL|11 title run, including a player-of-the-match performance in the final.

Perth used their retention pick in the inaugural draft to keep Evans after he was initially selected by the Sydney Sixers at pick 12.

BBL|13 Draft salary bands

  • Platinum: $420,000
  • Gold: $300,000
  • Silver: $200,000
  • Bronze: $100,000

The final batter to nominate is New Zealand's T20 circuit regular Colin Munro, who played last season with the Brisbane Heat.

Scorchers fans were upset that the club didn't use their retention pick to keep Munro when the Heat selected him at pick 11 last year after – Munro is the club's most capped international import after playing 29 games across two seasons between 2020-22.

Munro performed well for the Heat, who now have retention rights for the Kiwi, scoring 278 runs in eight games at a strike-rate of 150.27 and average of 34.75 before decamping as Brisbane surged towards the BBL Final.

Both the WBBL and BBL drafts will be held on Sunday, September 3, in a televised event on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports, with the WBBL draft taking place from 3pm, ahead of the BBL draft from 4.30pm.

The drafts for both leagues will follow the same guidelines and format as the inaugural men's event last year – there will be four rounds, with clubs able to select a minimum of two and a maximum of three players in total. 

The first two rounds will go in the order of the lottery, while rounds three and four will 'snake', which means the team picking last in the second round will pick first in the third round.

Both leagues have had a cash injection after a new Memorandum of Understanding between Cricket Australia and the players' union, the Australian Cricketers' Association, was agreed earlier this year.

That has seen the total payment pool for BBL clubs rise to $3m, while Platinum level players in the BBL draft will be able to earn $420,000 – an increase of 23.5 per cent on last year's fee.