Bond flags Big Bash bubble, draft hurdles
Departing Sydney Thunder coach says bubble requirements and time away from family could make stints abroad 'intolerable' for top-flight BBL recruits
30 April 2021, 05:11 PM AEST
Outgoing Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond has warned big-name overseas players may follow his lead in skipping the KFC BBL as the toll of bubble protocols and quarantine requirements reaches a breaking point.
The former New Zealand paceman also expressed reservations over Cricket Australia's plan to introduce an overseas player draft ahead of BBL|11.
Bond announced Friday that his three-year tenure at the Thunder would end due to his willingness to spend more time with his family, especially over the Christmas period after six years all up in the competition, having previously been assistant with the Brisbane Heat.
A sought-after bowling mentor who is currently in the Indian Premier League bubble as an assistant with the Mumbai Indians, Bond says the pandemic is forcing those involved in overseas T20 leagues to reprioritise given the challenges now associated with travel.
In recent days he has had to deal with the stress of possible logistical challenges getting home at the end of the current IPL given the flight bans various countries have put in place due to India's current COVID-19 crisis.
Bond pointed out that leagues like the IPL and the BBL are essentially becoming almost three-month-long commitments, often spent away from family, when quarantine periods are factored in.
The 45-year-old is concerned the BBL may struggle to attract the best international talent, especially with the next edition of the Bangladesh Premier League slated to overlap with the back-end of BBL|11.
"For an overseas player, the Big Bash is a long competition anyway when you take it from early December to end of January," Bond said from his hotel room in Delhi.
"You take two weeks of quarantine on the back of it for some players and it starts to become too long, particularly when it's over the Christmas period.
"The only way you're going to entice players over is money – I still think the players are getting paid really good money (in the BBL), sometimes it lacks perspective because of what they pay in this competition over here (in the IPL) – but it's still three months away.
"If there's bubbles going on and if people can't bring their families over like last year, it can make it intolerable.
"I expect there to be some challenges around some of those big-name players, particularly if other leagues like Bangladesh come back up and pay twice as much for half the length of the tournament.
"That's where there's some challenges for the BBL lying ahead."
Bubble fatigue was a factor for the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Marsh, Josh Philippe and Adam Zampa withdrawing from the ongoing IPL, while Tom Banton, Tom Curran and Imran Tahir all pulled out of stints in last season's BBL for similar reasons.
The BBL did still manage to attract a strong baseline of overseas talent last summer, and even introduced a third international slot in each team's XI for the first time, despite considerable logistical challenges.
CA is considering going a step further this summer by bringing in a draft, held in the months before the season, as the main avenue for clubs to recruit international talent.
In addition to providing a BBL event outside of the regular season, CA believes the draft will improve the quality of international players attracted to the BBL.
Melbourne Stars coach David Hussey has previously told cricket.com.au he believes it will help streamline the recruitment process.
But Bond remains unconvinced.
"I don't get it, to be honest," he said when asked about the draft.
"One of the beauties of going to the open market was filling gaps where you had gaps. If you're going to the draft two to three months before the season, what you draft and what you may need might be completely different.
"You might get to September and (partake in the) draft, then in October you've got injuries to fast bowlers, so you need fast bowlers but you've drafted three batsmen and you're stuck. There's just a range of issues that they need to address around that.
"What you've seen in the current environment, even in the IPL, is that players pull out pretty late and leaves teams stuck a bit.
"At least the current system allows some flexibility around who you can contract.
"If the teams have also got a budget of money for overseas players, they can choose to spend it how they want.
"If AB de Villiers is keen and you want to pay him all that money, I think that's fine. If you want to spread (the budget) across three players, then equally that can be part of your strategy."
He also suggested the likelihood of teams being able to keep players who have previously represented them (for example, it is likely the Adelaide Strikers would get first dibs on fan favourite Rashid Khan) could make the draft itself a less entertaining event.
"I wonder whether it just makes the draft a lay-down misère," said Bond. "Those players are going to be picked up (by their existing clubs) so it sort of makes the draft a non-event."