Bold bid to revive BBL knocked back
A proposal from Cricket Australia to spark up the Big Bash with more international stars has been blocked by the players' union.
Officials from CA and the Australian Cricketers Association have responded proactively to criticism over the quality of this year's BBL and are presenting a united front in conceding that tweaks must be made to help the competition recapture its snapple and pop after expanding to a full 59-game home and away schedule.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal that one bold proposal put forward by CA officials was to increase the number of roster spots available for international imports at any given time from two players to three per team.
Many teams last season were reliant on grade cricketers to fill out their rosters, while global superstars like AB de Villiers and Andre Russell preferred to play in a rival tournament in Bangladesh instead of coming down under.
However, the ACA has rejected the plan to increase from two to three out of a determination for local players to not lose their jobs to an influx of overseas talent.
Cricket Australia are not angry about the setback, and remain positive about the spirit of the discussions - adamant both they and the ACA remain aligned in a mission to reinvigorate the league.
But the decision has disappointed some clubs and also new broadcasters Seven and Fox Cricket, who were frustrated at the low standard of matches through January and have been crying out for more star power.
The ACA said it was working with CA on other options for luring international players to the BBL.
"It is well known that the task of attracting and retaining high profile international players in the BBL has been made more challenging by the increased length of the season and the competitive environment for talent," said an ACA spokesman.
"We are in fruitful discussions with CA about addressing this issue and that will continue while we review the season.
"The ACA is open minded about the increase in the number in replacement overseas players and flexibility in player movement"
Although the tournament delivered a cracking finals series, broadcasters remain desperate for bigger names to headline their coverage, particularly when Australian stars like Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch disappear for ODI or Test cricket in the height of the summer.
Leading figures around the game believe the foreign boost would have guaranteed the BBL's continued prosperity over a lengthened season and helped safeguard it against the alarming rise in overseas leagues.
But the latest development means the status quo of only two internationals will remain for each team next season, although these players can be replaced by other overseas stars mid-season provided there are only two on the roster at any given time.
CA can't simply change rules that contradict the existing Memorandum of Understanding with players, unless they get approval from the ACA.
Despite the setback Cricket Australia insist they and the ACA remain on the same page in their desire to usher in change, and say this difference of opinion is in no way a repeat of the bitter war that marred the two competing forces in the past.
They remain aligned together on several other more nuanced proposals that are currently ruminating at the highest levels.
It's understood CA and the ACA are looking at a more flexible approach to how international stars are accommodated.
Headline acts from overseas are rarely able to stay for an entire two month season - for example the Sydney Thunder had no choice but to try and replace Joe Root and Jos Buttler with replacement overseas names halfway through last summer.
CA want to remove some of the rigid rules around replacing internationals.
Leading cricket figures like Maxwell last summer called for an increased salary cap, and even a separate war chest of money outside the salary cap that could be used to lure international names.
It's unknown whether these options are being considered.