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Jason Gillespie and Tim Paine call for change as BBL farce infuriates cricket fans

Aussie cricket fans have been short-changed by the absence of a number of international stars in the BBL finals.

Tim Paine and Jason Gillespie in the BBL.
Tim Paine and Jason Gillespie have both called for change in the BBL. Image: Getty

Adelaide Strikers coaches Jason Gillespie and Tim Paine have called for the BBL's overseas player draft to be scrapped in order to avoid the farcical situation currently facing officials. The 2023/24 season has been an overwhelming success after it was shortened to 10 games per team, with an increase in average crowds of 27 per cent.

But the finals have been robbed of some serious star power after a number of international players opted to prioritise the more lucrative ILT20 in the UAE. Six overseas players from finals teams flew out to the UAE before the BBL playoffs kicked off, with the Scorchers losing Laurie Evans, the Heat losing Sam Billings and Colin Munro, the Sydney Sixers bidding farewell to James Vince and Strikers duo Jamie Overton and Adam Hose also departing.

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The Scorchers also lost Zak Crawley to international duty with England, with Aussie veteran Chris Lynn also departing the Strikers to play in the ILT20. Lynn is free to play wherever he likes because he isn't a Cricket Australia contracted player, and part of his deal with the Strikers was that he would leave early.

Lynn scored the third-most runs in the regular season with 304, while Evans had 292 to finish fourth. But neither player is even in the country anymore. The same situation would have occurred with David Warner had the Sydney Thunder made the finals.

According to reports, officials will conduct discussions around contracts after Wednesday night's final. Billings has floated the idea of offering players multi-year deals to offer more certainty when negotiating arrival dates with other leagues.

Jamie Overton and Chris Lynn.
Jamie Overton and Chris Lynn helped the Strikers make the BBL finals, but aren't playing in them. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Gillespie and Paine supported that idea on Sunday and called for the overseas player draft to be scrapped completely. “If the draft didn't happen, what that would allow franchises to do is be able to start negotiating now with a player," Gillespie said on SEN radio.

"We could potentially sign them to a multi-year deal. Going to a draft, we do a lot of work and all franchises do it. We put together lists of how we anticipate the draft could go, who would potentially get which point in the draft … what band of money (would you spend on) on the players that are available. What’s their availability? There's a lot that goes into it and I know a lot of the clubs like continuity, players want to be able to go back to the same team and supporters want to be able to support that player and see them come back in subsequent years.”

Laurie Evans.
Laurie Evans wasn't available for the Perth Scorchers' finals campaign. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Should the BBL's overseas player draft be scrapped?

Paine added: “If you want to build a successful club, you want consistency around staffing and your playing group. Your fans want the same, they want to build the BBL … I talk about the tribalism of footy because they (AFL clubs) have players that are in their teams for a decade.

“I want kids with (Adam) Hose, (Jamie) Overton and D’Arcy Short's name and number on their backs. But if they're swapping around or we don't know who our overseas players are because we only sign them for one year, it’s difficult.”

BBL teams are only allowed to retain one overseas player after every season. “I just think it would be better, in my opinion, if we were able to start negotiating now with overseas players to come back," Gillespie said. “Players want it, coaches want it, and franchises want it. It just seems that the powers that be like the idea of a draft.”

Cricket Australia and BBL officials have flagged that the draft is here to stay for now. A more compressed schedule next season with no break for the Perth Test is also expected to aid in luring overseas talent for more matches.

with AAP

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