Big Bash's new overseas pre-signing rule explained

The first handful of multi-year overseas player deals have been announced for both the WBBL and BBL. Here's what it all means

What is a direct overseas signing?

New this season, the multi-year contract option allows clubs to pre-sign one men's and women's overseas player for up to a maximum of three years ahead of the KFC BBL|14 and Weber WBBL|10 drafts. The contracting mechanism has been introduced to help retain and attract new international players amid an increasingly competitive global T20 landscape.

From WBBL|11 and BBL|15 onwards, these players are required to be available for the entire season including finals.

Though there was no availability element this summer (for WBBL|10 and BBL|14) due to the potential of existing contracts with other global franchises, all pre-signed internationals announced so far – Brisbane Heat's Colin Munro and Nadine de Klerk, Hobart Hurricanes' Chris Jordan, Melbourne Stars' Tom Curran and Marizanne Kapp, Sydney Thunder's Sam Billings and Sydney Sixers' Amelia Kerr – have also committed to this season in full, pending any commitments for their national team.

Why the availability rules?

In the past two BBL seasons – since the inception of South Africa's new franchise league (beginning in early January) and the UAE’s International League T20 competition (beginning in mid-January) – Big Bash clubs have found it increasingly difficult to keep overseas talent for the entire season despite the introduction of a new draft system prior to BBL|12.

Last season, champions Brisbane Heat lost both stand-in captain Colin Munro and wicketkeeper Sam Billings to the UAE competition before the finals, while runners-up Sydney Sixers saw opener James Vince depart. The Adelaide Strikers lost Adam Hose and Jamie Overton and Perth Scorchers lost Laurie Evans, meaning all four BBL|13 finalists were impacted during the crucial knockout phase of the season.

After signing for the next two seasons with the Heat, Munro said it was great the league had "stepped in" to keep overseas players in the tournament for longer.

"I know myself and Billings and a couple of the overseas (players) last year were quite vocal about trying to sign either multi-year deals or getting players outside the draft, to really try and attract some of those big players," he said.

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"We've already seen with some of those boys coming back and signing multi-year deals now, and I'm sure there will be more to come over the next couple of weeks or months. If we can attract the best players to come and play in the Big Bash, then it's great for everyone here."

The women's international and global T20 schedules have also become increasingly crowded with India's Women's Premier League, England's Hundred, as well as competitions in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean and Zimbabwe established since 2020. Drafted England star Danni Wyatt withdrew from WBBL|09 last summer citing fatigue, while her replacement Nat Sciver-Brunt was only available for the second half of the season.

How do direct signings work?

Clubs can pre-sign overseas players on one-, two- or three-year deals at one of the existing draft salary bands (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze) or at a negotiated price above the Platinum rate, which was $420,000 per season for men's players in BBL|13 or $110,000 for women in WBBL|09.

Draft salary bands

Platinum $110k


(based on availability)

Gold $90k $300k
Silver $65k $200k
Bronze Up to $40k Up to $100k

It allows players to skip the unpredictability of the draft and negotiate directly with the team of their choice, while clubs also have certainty that the players will not be signing up to other T20 competitions. International commitments could still be a factor, but the WBBL has a relatively clear window in 2024 after the women's T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and of the men signed so far, only Chris Jordan has played for his county in the past year.

How does it impact the draft?

Pre-signed players will not enter the draft pool but clubs must nominate which salary band their pre-signed player fits into. They will not be required to pick in that round of the draft. For example, if an overseas player is signed to a multi-year contract at the Gold level, the club must allocate their second or third round pick on that player.

But clubs don't have to reveal the salary band until the draft. Sydney Thunder didn't divulge the salary level for Sam Billings, announced last month as the first men's overseas player signed to a multi-year contract, as they didn't want to give away their draft strategy to rival clubs.

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Regardless of any direct signings, clubs must pick at least twice during the draft. Unlike previous years, clubs may select up to four overseas players in the draft, which would include the pick allocated for any pre-signed, multi-year international player. If selected, the fourth player would become one of the club's overseas replacement players.

Clubs are permitted up to three overseas players on their primary list each season, either pre-signed or drafted. In the men's competition, they can contract an additional four as overseas replacement players, while in the women's competition that figure is three, but only three overseas players are permitted in the playing XI for each match.

Can a club pre-sign more than one overseas player?

Each club is allowed to pre-sign only one men's and women's player to a multi-year contract prior to the draft. After the draft, they are permitted to sign more overseas players directly either as primary listed players (if they only picked twice) as long as that player nominated for the draft, or flesh out their stocks with replacement players.

Replacement players are those that sit outside a club's primary list of 18 for the BBL (15 for WBBL) but can be brought into the squad at any point should injury strike or a player gets called away for international duty or commitments with another T20 league. Overseas players must have nominated for the draft to be eligible as replacement players.

Do retention rules apply?

Not for pre-signed players, as was evident with the first two direct signings as Sydney Sixers lured star New Zealand allrounder Amelia Kerr after four seasons with Brisbane Heat. This was despite the Heat being keen to retain her having put "a competitive offer" on the table. Sam Billings also left the Heat to sign a three-year deal with Sydney Thunder, the club he previously played for in BBL|10 and BBL|11.

Pre-signings don't affect retention picks for the draft, with each club still eligible to retain one player in the BBL|14 and WBBL|10 drafts. For the Heat, this includes Paul Walter, Mignon du Preez, Bess Heath and Sarah Glenn, provided they are not one of a possible 16 overseas players pre-signed prior to the draft.