Strikers to do 'everything in our power' to retain Rashid
Player availability is the big unknown as clubs prepare for the inaugural BBL draft, with Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie confident Afghanistan's superstar leggie will line up with his team in BBL|12
23 June 2022, 05:00 PM AEST
Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie claims he would be "pretty shocked" if prized international recruit Rashid Khan doesn't line up with his team in BBL|12, provided the Afghanistan spin bowling wizard nominates for the competition's inaugural draft.
Rashid has forged a strong and enduring bond with both Gillespie and the Strikers, and has noted in the past he considers Adelaide – where he been a pivotal part of the team since his first appearance in 2017 – as something of a second home.
However, with the world's fourth-ranked T20I bowler in huge demand by rival clubs and with plans for competing T20 tournaments to staged in the UAE (where Rashid is based) and South Africa from early next year, Gillespie is anxiously awaiting further details about his star spinner's availability.
Should the 23-year-old opt to continue his association with the BBL where he is the all-time leading wicket-taker among overseas representatives, the Strikers have signalled their intention to utilise their retention pick under the draft selection protocols released by Cricket Australia this week.
Under those guidelines, if an overseas player who was named in the starting XI (or introduced as an X-factor substitute during a game) in at least one match last year, the team for which he played can counter any attempt by a rival club to secure that player in the draft provided they still have a pick remaining in the same round.
That means Rashid – who played 11 games for the Strikers last summer – would remain in blue for BBL|12, provided he nominates for the draft which will be held on a date yet to be announced.
"I'd be pretty shocked if Rashid Khan wasn't playing for the Adelaide Strikers," Gillespie said today.
"I can't imagine Rash wanting to play anywhere else.
"I certainly don't want him to play anywhere else, and I'm pretty sure everyone here (in Adelaide) is of the same opinion.
"We'll just have to wait and see what the draft throws up, but I feel very confident that Rashid Khan will play for the Adelaide Strikers."
What Gillespie could not be quite so certain about was whether – should the Strikers secure Rashid's services for a sixth season at the upcoming draft – they would have the star spinner for most or all of BBL|12.
Despite his historic connection to the Strikers, where Adelaide officials had hoped to sign him to a long-term deal before plans for the draft took shape, Rashid has played just two of a possible seven finals matches due to conflicting international commitments with Afghanistan.
He was not part of the Strikers' sole title victory to date (against Hobart Hurricanes in 2018) despite being the team's leading wicket-taker in BBL|07, and missed all three of Adelaide's final matches last summer when he was required for a three-game ODI series against the Netherlands in Qatar.
Under the ICC's current Future Tours Programme, Afghanistan are scheduled to play ODIs against West Indies and New Zealand in January next year (when the BBL reaches its climax) and his availability might also depend on whether he opts to be part of the planned UAE or South Africa tournaments.
Details unveiled yesterday reveal international players who nominate for the four-tiered (platinum, gold, silver, bronze) BBL draft can pocket their full salary even if they don't play the entire tournament.
While Gillespie all-but guaranteed Rashid would be with the Strikers if he threw his hat into the draft, he added any final decision on player signings will depend on confirmation of the future international schedule with players required to state their availability when nominating for the draft.
"We've always had the challenges of international games, so to use Rash (Rashid) as an example, he's missed various games for Afghanistan commitments which everyone is completely understanding of," Gillespie said.
"International cricket is the priority.
"And with these other potential leagues – there's talk of a league in the UAE, there's talk of a league in South Africa – we'll just have to wait and see.
"At the moment, we're unsure.
"We're just focused on talking about the potential for a draft and what it looks like and someone like Rashid Khan, if he's available and it's our pick, there's every chance he will be picked up."
Tim Nielsen, SACA's general manager of high performance, also flagged following the announcement of the draft that the Strikers would be "doing everything in our power to retain" Rashid using their retention pick.
Gillespie's former Australia Test teammate Ricky Ponting, recently appointed to the role of head of strategy with Hobart Hurricanes, agreed it was difficult to predict how the draft will change the nature of the BBL until more was known about the identity and availability of international players.
However, Ponting added his view that "I don't think overall the draft can fail" and claimed its first year of operation might serve to break established bonds between some overseas representatives and the clubs they have previously served.
"If we wanted Rashid Khan down here and he's an Adelaide Strikers contracted player, then they have got the right to match what we do anyway," Ponting said today.
"I am sure that is the intention of it, certainly in the first year anyway, maybe to try and disrupt and get some of the players out of the environments they have been in for the last few years.
"I am very much a novice at the way this is going to work.
"It hasn't been in play in too many other competitions around the world so by the time it's done we will have a much better understanding of it all.
"What teams will be trying to do is unearth some platinum-type players at a cheaper price point, that is where the teams are going to have the most success ... try and find that little nugget."
Ponting, who is renowned as one of the game's best analysts, has already earmarked a high-quality overseas spinner as top of the Hurricanes wish list for the draft and he also has his eyes set on a top-order batting allrounder that can bowl some handy overs of spin.
Gillespie indicated he's also awaiting clarification on the Australia men's team playing commitments in the new year to gain a clearer picture on the availability of Strikers stalwarts Travis Head and Alex Carey.
Both are currently members of Australia's Test and ODI squads, and their capacity to compete in BBL|12 will likely depend on the status of a one-day series against South Africa that was initially flagged for January but is now in doubt.
Carey is contracted to the Strikers until the end of BBL|13, but Head's four-year deal with his home-town team expired at the end of last season and his availability between home Test series against West Indies and South Africa and a scheduled Test tour to India from next February remains unclear.
"What we want, and what everyone – supporters, Cricket Australia, the franchises, players – want to see is the best players playing in BBL," Gillespie said today.
"Obviously, international commitments and playing for Australia is the priority for players.
"But if there is a window where we can have some of the international lads playing all forms of the game, if there's a little window where they can play some BBL, that's something we would certainly explore."