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Will Aussie stars choose $700,000 payday over BBL?

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Already facing competition from a new South African tournament launching next January, the BBL window has now been further ambushed by the announcement of an even more daunting United Arab Emirates T20 league to take place between January 6 and February 12.It’s understood the BBL is set to announce plans for a long-awaited international player draft in the coming weeks, and will look to expedite the draft date to get ahead of the foreign raiders who are armed with deeper pockets and the promise of shorter tournaments.Originally the BBL’s proposed draft may have been close to the end of the year, but that’s now likely to come forward in a bid to snap up overseas stars before they’ve committed elsewhere.All of Cricket Australia’s off-season planning has been based on the expectation the BBL would face unprecedented competition this summer, so the UAE announcement is hardly a shock.Watch Australia’s Tour of Sri Lanka. Every T20, ODI and Test Match Live & On-Demand on Kayo. First T20 Starts 7th Jun 11:30PM AEST. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free NowCA is determined to be flexible and agile with its plans, and it’s understood meetings were taking place on Tuesday to discuss whether the UAE announcement will require them to tweak their strategies and model for what a draft will look like.Perhaps the BBL’s biggest advantage at this point is the fact it’s established and should be able to jump in and try and quickly sign players, with South Africa and the UAE still yet to announce specific details about teams and matches.But the threat being posed by the UAE league is particularly ominous and only accentuates the need for the BBL to prioritise being able to get its own Australian international stars available and playing rather than relying on overseas imports.It should also be setting off alarm bells at Cricket Australia about the urgency now required in trying to convince Australian opener Warner to come back to the BBL.Warner has said before due to family reasons he won’t consider playing in T20 franchise leagues other than the IPL until he retires from international cricket, but the fact his name is right at the top of the target list for UAE powerbrokers is a sobering warning for CA administrators about exactly what’s at stake.Word out of the UAE is that top end superstars like Warner could be offered up to US$500,000 to play, although talk of a $2 million salary cap would put those kind of contracts at a premium.The concept of Warner playing an overseas T20 competition in January in his twilight years – rather than the Big Bash – would be an unmitigated disaster for a local competition already facing a massive fight to get free-to-air broadcasters revved up for the next TV rights deal.Australian Cricketers Association bosses Todd Greenberg and Shane Watson have publicly supported the ending of Warner’s lifetime leadership ban from all levels of Australian cricket – a major obstacle to him ever playing in the BBL again.The time has now come for Cricket Australia to get serious about whether it’s prepared to address the issue.On face value there is some serious power behind the UAE league.It’s understood the cashed-up Kolkata Knight Riders IPL owners are partners in it and may own a team playing out of Abu Dhabi.Warner’s IPL team the Delhi Capitals are also interested in purchasing the Dubai team, while Mumbai Indians may also have a franchise in the UAE’s six-team competition.It’s been reported Manchester United owners the Glazer family have also held talks with the UAE League about potentially owning a team.Discarded Brisbane Heat star Chris Lynn shapes as another key target for the new leagues in South Africa and the UAE and could double the $200,000 salary he was earning with the Heat – which was the top contract in the BBL.Cricket Australia has never paid outrageous money for international stars – and are unlikely to start now – but will take on a more pragmatic approach going forward where overseas players will be welcomed to stay for short stints only if they have another earn they want to pick up elsewhere.The threat posed by South Africa and the UAE will matter much less if CA can somehow orchestrate Australian international Test stars to play the BBL – because that’s who Australian audiences want to tune in for anyway.



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