BBL 2024 finals – Officials consider rule changes for overseas signings

Cricket Australia will consult BBL clubs over potential changes to contracting rules in a bid to try and keep overseas stars for future finals series.

The BBL celebrated a return to life this summer with the shorter home-and-away season coinciding with a 27 per cent increase in average crowds. There were crowds of beyond 40,000 in five matches for the first time since 2017-18, while the Melbourne Renegades saw their average increase by 63 per cent.

Clubs were aware of the player availability when they were picked in the draft, with the huge money on offer in the UAE from clubs often owned by players’ IPL franchises hard to resist. Officials hope to find an answer for future seasons and finals series, with an overwhelming message from players that they would like to stay.

It is understood that contractual discussions are likely to feature in end-of-season talks when the embargo period ends after Wednesday’s final. One suggestion, floated by Billings, is more security for overseas players out of the draft, with multi-year deals one idea to offer more certainty when negotiating arrival dates with rival leagues.

“We have seen this year the role overseas players continue to play in the BBL,” BBL boss Alistair Dobson told AAP. “They have been great performers on the field, they are fan favourites and the broadcasters love them.

“However, we need to continue to evolve our competition and make our competition appealing to the players to come and play in the BBL. And ideally, [to] have them play as many games as possible has been and will continue to be a clear focus for us.”

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.

In a big summer for the BBL, first-placed Brisbane had average crowds increase by 45 per cent before Friday night’s grand-final qualifier against Sydney Sixers on the Gold Coast. Perth were also up 35 per cent, while attendances in Melbourne grew by 39 per cent.

The rise comes despite five abandoned matches included in the figures, with numbers close to what they were in 2018-19 before the competition’s slide.

The reduction from 56 regular season games to 40 is part of that, allowing organisers and broadcasters to return to the every-game-is-an-event mantra that the BBL thrived on its early years.

“This year it has only got stronger and gives us a bigger platform for next year and beyond,” Dobson said. “Fewer games adds scarcity, but it also provides capacity and oxygen to our schedule and ensures every game is promoted in a bigger and better fashion.”

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