BBL 2022: Chris Lynn and international stars may be lured away by big cash from rival T20 competitions
The Big Bash League’s all-time leading run scorer could have played his last T20 game in Australia. Ben Horne details why we might not see Chris Lynn in the BBL again.
Sacked drawcard Chris Lynn could be lost to the Big Bash altogether because of a new South African league offering marquee superstars over $400,000 for just four weeks work.
The BBL is set to introduce an overseas player draft for the first time this summer in a bid to lure the game’s biggest international names back down under and recapture the competition’s former magic ahead of a new make-or-break TV rights deal.
But already that plan is under serious threat from cashed-up foreign raiders and Lynn’s shock axing has laid bare the latest potential predicament facing the besieged BBL.
South Africa is launching a new six-team T20 franchise league to run directly against the BBL in January, and the mail is they’re prepared to offer up to US$300,000 (approx. $433,000AUD) to fill overseas marquee player spots on each team.
That’s a problem when Lynn was one of only a couple of players in the BBL – Australian or overseas – earning top dollar at $200,000 a season, with the average more around the $100,000 mark.
“Chris Lynn is a world class entertainer and an obvious target for the new South African league,” said respected South African broadcaster, Neil Manthorp.
“There’d be executives watching his departure from the Brisbane Heat very closely.”
Players have complained about the BBL’s drawn out six-week duration, and South Africa have looked to seize on that sentiment by promising a season of just four weeks which starts late enough that players can enjoy Christmas at home.
And as if one rival league wasn’t enough, there is also talk about another T20 competition launching in the United Arab Emirates in January or February – including a Manchester United team – where marquee players like Lynn could easily earn double – or more – what they can pocket in the BBL.
Lynn’s agent is English based and very much in-tune with the global cricket market outside the BBL.
It must be said that the BBL has seen plenty of these would-be T20 Leagues come and go over the years – and the last South African T20 competition fell in a financial heap and never made it off the ground.
One thing the BBL can guarantee is it’s a well-run competition which pays its players, and there are countless examples of Australians struggling to get paid what’s owed to them in these start-up overseas leagues.
But nonetheless the threat is there and the BBL would be advised to take it seriously.
Cricket Australia sources say they are and administrators are looking at ways they can compete with the new overseas leagues both financially and with the timing of when the draft is held – trying to get first dibs on international stars for the BBL.
But the view of the Big Bash from overseas is that it got too greedy and may never fully recover.
Having a competition drawn out over six weeks is hurting the BBL, particularly now there are rival competitions setting up in the same window able to offer more money for less commitment.
Cricket Australia hasn‘t shut down the idea of shortening the competition when the next TV deal comes around, but they’re seeking more data before making a decision which would in the short-term cost the game millions at the broadcast rights table.
However, players – and broadcasters – believe shortening the season would improve the popularity and sustainability of the product over the long-haul.
Lynn may also become a victim of a system that is less about the clubs and more about the states.
There are countless examples of states ‘bundling’ players to play for their BBL team as well as the state – for example South Australia has just recruited Harry Conway, on the back of him spending a couple of seasons at the Adelaide Strikers.
It counts against Lynn because clubs are reluctant to go down the path of handing out multi-year contracts like the million dollar five-year deal he got from the Brisbane Heat – particularly when he doesn’t play for Queensland in 50-over and first-class cricket.
On the other side of the coin, Lynn is an exception to the rule when it comes to the threat of the South African league in the sense he is happily outside the state contract system and would not be professionally affected choosing overseas money over the BBL.
That won’t be the case with most Australian stars who wouldn’t find it worth their while to go rogue.
The real danger posed by rival South African and the UAE is to the BBL’s ability to attract the top overseas freelance talent.
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The BBL may not be the honey pot the IPL is for international stars, but at least it always had in its favour the fact there was no other T20 cricket on in that timeslot.
Now that exclusivity is gone and Cricket Australia may either have to find deeper pockets or shorten the competition – or both – to convince overseas stars that the BBL is the place to be in January.