The Big Bash League’s new international player draft has secured its first marquee name with former South African captain Faf du Plessis nominating for a return to the KFC BBL this summer.
Du Plessis has become one of the world’s most sought after T20 free agents since retiring from Test cricket in February 2021, and recently led the Royal Challengers Bangalore to third in this year’s Indian Premier League.
The former No.3 ranked T20I batter played a sole Big Bash match for Melbourne Renegades in BBL | 02, which followed his player-of-the-match performance on Test debut a fortnight earlier where he blunted the Australian attack for 376 balls during an unbeaten second innings century that helped the visitors secure a famous draw in Adelaide.
The 37-year-old has accumulated 7608 runs at 31.18 across his 293-game T20 career, including 468 runs opening the batting during IPL 2022, and remains one of the world’s most athletic fielders and revered on-field leaders.
Du Plessis’ commitment is a boost for the BBL’s new draft concept as the league has been frequently criticized for its lack of star power in recent seasons, with the No.1 objective of the draft to recruit the best available international T20 players into the competition .
His nomination has been confirmed alongside countryman Rilee Rossouwwho is currently the third leading run-scorer in England’s T20 Blast with 498 at a strike rate of 191.53 from 12 matches with Somerset.
Rossouw was last night named in South Africa’s T20 squad to face England this northern summer, putting him in line for an international return after six years in the wilderness.
The 32-year-old signed a Kolpak deal with Hampshire in 2016, making him ineligible to play for South Africa, but that restriction has been lifted following the UK’s ‘Brexit’ from the European Union and he recently signaled an intent to play for his country again.
Like Du Plessis, Rossouw boasts a formidable T20 career record with 6307 runs at 31.22 with a strike rate of 141.57 in 248 matches.
If drafted, both Du Plessis and Rossouw will be available for their clubs until early January before departing to play in the inaugural season of South Africa’s new T20 franchise league.
Namibian T20 World Cup hero David Wiese has also nominated for the draft following an impressive Pakistan Super League campaign with champions Lahore Qalandars that yielded nine wickets and 168 runs at a strike rate of 184.61, including 28 from just eight balls in the final.
The 37-year-old, who last represented South Africa in 2016 before switching allegiances, rose to prominence with a stunning all-round performance in last year’s World Cup in the UAE with his 2-22 and 28no off 14 balls helping Namibia down Ireland and qualify for the Super 12 group stage for the first time.
It would be Wiese’s first appearance in the BBL if drafted.
Marchant de Langethe fourth South African-born player confirmed as nominated for the draft, is also hoping to make his Big Bash debut later this year.
The 31-year-old two-meter fast bowler has played for South Africa in all three formats and is fresh off a devastating 4-9 from three overs for Somerset in this year’s T20 Blast.
The league’s player acquisition consultant, Trent Woodhill, said the draft had injected “significant excitement and interest” into the global T20 market and they were engaged in positive discussions with a large number of players and their agents.
The BBL confirmed the inaugural draft last week in an effort to get the world’s best T20 talent into the competition.
Each club will be able to select up to three foreign players across four rounds and four salary bands ranging from $ 340,000 (platinum), $ 260,000 (gold), $ 175,000 (silver) and $ 100,000 for bronze.
Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia’s General Manager of Big Bash Leagues, said a nomination of Du Plessis’ caliber was an endorsement of the BBL draft and the league’s “unique offering as a great experience for players and their families”.
“We thank these players for making themselves available for the KFC BBL and look forward to announcing further nominations soon,” he said.