Australian cricketer Chris Lynn has officially turned his back on the Big Bash League, signing on for the inaugural International League T20 in the United Arab Emirates.
On Monday, Emirates Cricket announced that 54 international cricketers had agreed to participate in the newly-developed T20 league, which makes its debut in January 2023.
Lynn, one of the sport’s most destructive short-format batters, was the only Australian featured on a list headlined by Ashes hero Moeen Ali and West Indies veteran Andre Russell.
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The 2023 ILT20 will have 34 matches, with all the teams playing each other twice before four playoff fixtures across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
It’s understood the UAE league could offer players up to AU$700,000 for five weeks’ work.
“It’s exciting to see how well the squads are shaping up for the first season of ILT20,” Emirates Cricket General Secretary Mubashshir Usmani said in a statement.
“Each team will consist of 18 players including four UAE players and two other players from ICC Associate countries. The quality of the names announced today is outstanding and so is the interest in our league from top players from all around the world.
“We are very excited that a select number of UAE representative players, from our current pool, will also be considered and signed on to participate in the league. It is also extremely important to note that these (UAE) players will form part of the team’s playing XI.
“One of the key objectives for ILT20 is to provide opportunities for players from the UAE and other Associate nations to perform on the big stage, and, ECB extends its deep appreciation to the six franchises for their support of our vision to grow our game and create stronger, more competitive players.”
The announcement effectively confirms that Lynn, the highest run-scorer in Big Bash history, won’t sign for a BBL franchise this year.
In May, the Brisbane Heat elected not to renew the Queenslander’s $200,000 contract after a couple of underwhelming seasons in the domestic T20 tournament.
Lynn was not only one of the Heat’s foundation players, winning a BBL title with the Brisbane-based club in 2013, he also served as captain for several years.
According to two The Agethe 32-year-old was unable to find another club willing to meet his asking price, although he had recently been in talks with the Adelaide Strikers.
The powerful right-hander has scored 3005 Big Bash runs at 34.54 at an imposing strike rate of 148.83.
Lynn has been in impeccable form this winter, recently smacking an unbeaten 113 from 57 balls in the T20 Blast to equal his highest individual score and set up a Northamptonshire victory.
Although the loss of Lynn is a massive blow for the BBL, Cricket Australia is reportedly on the verge of brokering a deal with superstar batter David Warner.
According to two The AustralianWarner has been offered a groundbreaking BBL contract above and beyond any previous player contract.
“I am very hopeful David will play BBL and I am hopeful that all of our best Australian cricketers will play in it,” Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Todd Greenberg told the Cricket Et Cetera podcast this week.
“There’s a variety of reasons why. There’s absolutely no doubt that someone like David and others of his ilk could earn more in the coming Australian summer if they were to ply their trade overseas, but there’s a much broader discussion and a bigger picture we are trying to solve here and that’s the discussion I am having with several of our players this week.”
CA is desperate to ensure the sport’s biggest names will make an appearance in the BBL this summer; the competition has been starved of international-quality talent after the last two seasons were plagued by Covid-19.
Earlier this year, The Daily Telegraph reported that broadcaster Channel 7 had launched Federal Court action against CA in a bid to terminate its TV rights deal.
According to the News Corp report, Seven is adamant the cricketers that featured in last summer’s BBL were not of a high enough quality for the competition to meet the standard provisions stipulated in CA’s TV rights contract.
However, the Big Bash has already secured the services of former South African captain Faf du Plessis and Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, while Australian stars Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Lyon and Alex Carey have also signed for their respective BBL franchises.
“These leagues we are talking about at the moment are competing with our Australian domestic summer and that is the first time we’ve faced this, it is a unique challenge,” Greenberg said.
“The second thing is that the reasons they enjoy the benefits and remunerations that they enjoy under this model is because of those that came before them.
“David and others understand … and are very conscious that if they play in this competition it increases the opportunity for the next broadcast deal to be secured at a higher number which maybe doesn’t benefit them specifically, but it benefits the next generation of Australian cricketers coming through.
“This is a real test of our players demonstrating the level of partnership.
“They understand they have to get the best players to play, which includes them and the best players from overseas, which is why we’ve agreed in this one-year deal to ensure that there is an international draft and salary cap – an opportunity to bring the best overseas players in.”
Because South Africa has withdrawn from next January’s three-match ODI series against Australia, the country’s international stars will be available for the second half of the BBL.
However, multi-format paceman Mitchell Starc has already decided he won’t be signing for any franchise due to the sport’s busy calendar, and Australian teammates Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will most likely follow suit.
“I have always enjoyed the BBL when I have played it … but my approach with all franchise cricket hasn’t changed over the last seven years,” Starc told AAP earlier this month.
“My approach to the IPL, BBL, I have looked at the Australian schedule and wanting to be as fit and well-performed for that as I can.
“And franchise cricket has taken a back seat.”