The biggest off-contract names eyeing BBL|11 deals
With the pandemic, aborted plans for an international draft and squads trimmed by one this summer, there's a number of high-profile players still searching for new deals
31 July 2021, 01:13 PM AEST
The KFC BBL player contracting embargo has lifted but the late decision to axe the international player draft and cut squad sizes by one from last summer has several high-profile domestic players still hunting for a deal.
Last summer, the COVID-19 pandemic saw the BBL expand clubs' playing rosters to 19, with three internationals allowed in the playing XI for the first time.
While the three internationals rule has remained, squad sizes have reverted to 18, creating a squeeze for spots.
Adding to the uncertainty for BBL list managers is the ongoing pandemic and the associated uncertainty about bilateral international fixtures, as well as a log jam of domestic T20 tournaments that is making it hard to lock down international signings.
T20's crowded calendar *Not including bilateral T20 internationals
Caribbean Premier League: August 26 to September 15
Indian Premier League: September 19 to October 15
T20 World Cup: October 17 to November 15
Mzansi Super League: unconfirmed November-December window
Lankan Premier League: December 5 to 19
KFC BBL|11: December 5 to January 28
Pakistan Super League: January – February window
Bangladesh Premier League: January 14 to February 28
Abu Dhabi T10 League: January 28 to February 6
With overseas tournaments encroaching on the start and end of the Big Bash, clubs are playing a juggling act and looking to secure international talent before finalising their squads with domestic players.
Take a look at the top unsigned Australian players in BBL|11, and what their options are.
James Faulkner's future with the Hobart Hurricanes remains clouded, and the allrounder is said to be entertaining offers from other clubs for BBL|11. The Faulkner camp is understood to have been left bitterly disappointed by a contract extension offer from Hobart and has since been weighing up his options, including the potential to play abroad.
The 31-year-old has an outstanding pedigree in white-ball cricket, named player of the final in Australia's 2015 ODI World Cup triumph, and was the hero of epic run chases against India and England in the 2013-14 season. But he has been blighted by injuries later in his career and has played just 12 out of 29 games over the past two BBL seasons.
However, Faulkner was back to his best when he joined the Lahore Qalanders for the Pakistan Super League's resumption in June this year and took 13 wickets at an economy of 6.50, along with 90 lower-order runs from 53 balls while playing six games in 10 days.
Highly motivated to prove his worth, Faulkner may yet still agree to terms with the Hurricanes, but would make a canny buy for BBL rivals should negotiations break down.
Strongly linked with a move across town to the Melbourne Renegades, Nic Maddinson currently remains without a contract. The 29-year-old showed signs of being back to his best in T20 cricket last summer but has blown hot and cold in the shortest format for a while now. Case in point: in the 2019-20 summer, Maddinson blasted 23 sixes in just 10 Marsh Sheffield Shield innings, but in 14 BBL games, he only hit two over the rope.
Having joined the Melbourne Stars ahead of BBL|08 on a three-year deal, he finished that term with an average of 14 and a strike right of 101.55 from 34 games. Indeed, Maddinson has averaged less than 12 in three of the past five Big Bash seasons, including two with the Sydney Sixers.
They're hard numbers to comprehend given they contrast so starkly with Maddinson's prolific first-class form, none more so than that 2019-20 summer where he was the Shield's top run-scorer with 780 at 86.66.
A deep thinker and enigmatic character, a change of scenery for state cricket from NSW to Victoria in 2018 – which coincided with his BBL move to the Stars – offered him a new lease on life in the first-class format.
Another change for the Big Bash, albeit one just across the city, could again prove pivotal.
Still bitterly disappointed at the way he was cut loose by the Sydney Thunder at the back end of last season, Callum Ferguson remains on the hunt for a new club. He was the Thunder's second-top run-scorer (405 runs at an average of 31.15) behind league leader Alex Hales last season, hitting three fifties at a handy clip of 123.85, and spent four seasons with the club, two of them as captain.
He's expressed a desire to find a spot that will see him bat in the top three but those are keenly sought after, and clubs will first look at what international recruits they can land in that space, meaning Ferguson may be without a deal for a while yet.
His experience and leadership are attractive qualities, particularly for a club like the Renegades who have a young list, but a lack of available spots means a return there is unlikely. He could also be a valuable addition to the Brisbane Heat roster, while a return to the Adelaide Strikers for the proud South Australian, where he spent the first three years of the BBL, might be a fitting result for a player who will be 37 by the time BBL|11 gets underway.
Joe Paris enjoyed a welcome return to form last summer after a rotten run with injuries but remains on the fringe of that state's stacked pace brigade, particularly in the limited-overs formats. And with no white-ball internationals conflicting with the BBL|11 window, Paris's chances of breaking into the Perth Scorchers starting XI are slim, and the 28-year-old left-armer is known to have been looking east for more opportunity.
The left-armer played just one match for the Scorchers in BBL|10 – and even then he was only able to get one over in before rain arrived – but he fared much better in the state competitions. A maiden first-class century and a five-wicket haul against Victoria capped his season in late March, but it was the Marsh One-Day Cup where he stood out while Perth was without its international stars, as he claimed 10 scalps in three games at 13.30 and an economy of 4.89.
Curiously, having been among the Renegades' best performers in a difficult two seasons since their BBL|08 title win, the club have allowed Beau Webster to be courted by other teams. Much like another Renegades fan favourite Peter Hatzoglou, who this week signed with the Perth Scorchers, Webster was not offered a new contract having spent four seasons with the club. He attracted strong interest from several teams throughout the embargo period, but has been strongly linked with the Melbourne Stars, as first reported by cricket.com.au back in May. And while he is expected to land there, nothing has been confirmed yet.
Perth's decision to recruit a trio of overseas top-order batters saw Sam Whiteman sidelined for the entirety of BBL|10, so it is perhaps understandable the 29-year-old is looking east for more opportunities in BBL|11, and the Melbourne Stars are understood to be leading the pack in hunting for his signature. Whiteman, once touted as an Australia Test wicketkeeping prospect, has hung up the gloves after a series of finger surgeries, but has continued to shine with the bat. He was WA's top run scorer in the Marsh One-Day Cup last summer, posting three fifties in five games, but a return to the Scorchers this summer appears unlikely.
A noted death bowler and an energetic fielder responsible for some of the greatest moments ever seen in the Big Bash, Ben Laughlin faces an uncertain future. He will be 39 by the time BBL|11 begins and is coming off a poor season with the Brisbane Heat in BBL|10, playing just eight of the 17 games and snaring a solitary wicket. Laughlin is understood to be realistic about his prospects but is still keen to find a home in BBL|11.
Fawad Ahmed has been cut loose by the Perth Scorchers who have instead signed Peter Hatzoglou, snaring last season's breakout star on a two-year deal. The leg-spinner, who is currently in Pakistan staying with family, believes he still has plenty to offer in the Big Bash and has been speaking to clubs in other T20 competitions around the globe. At age 39, and with more opportunities seemingly forthcoming in overseas T20 leagues, he has plenty to weigh up in the months ahead.
Brendan Doggett showed he's not afraid of a move by switching state allegiances to South Australia this winter, and saw his two-year deal with the Sydney Thunder expire at the end of BBL|10. The right-armer had formed a strong connection with Thunder head coach Shane Bond, who has since moved on to be replaced by Trevor Bayliss. It's understood the Thunder are keen to see the 27-year-old return, although no deal has been confirmed at this stage.
Jake Weatherald had been due to spend his winter in the Northern Territory playing in Darwin's Strike League, but has pulled out due to travel restrictions at the moment. It's a blow as he would have been able to use that tournament to impress suitors, given he is out of contract with the Adelaide Strikers after five years at the club. Cricket.com.au reported in February that both the Sixers and Renegades had shown interest in the left-hander. Another who joined the Pakistan Super League's mid-year resumption, the 26-year-old left-hander showed he could mix it on the foreign T20 circuit with an impressive showing opening up for the Quetta Gladiators.
The BBL|11 Schedule