The Big Bash League (BBL) on Monday announced to launch a centralised pool of replacement players to help clubs continue to field a team as the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases has wreaked havoc across the T20 competition.
Announced the pool on Monday, the league said that each player would live under the BBL hub protocols and be assigned a ‘home’ club for logistical purposes.
Notably, there are eight players on the list currently with more expected to be added: Nicholas Bertus (Sydney Sixers), Jake Carder (Perth Scorchers), Iain Carlisle (Hobart Hurricanes), Daniel Drew (Adelaide Strikers), Jake Doran (Melbourne Stars), Lachlan Hearne (Sydney Thunder), Lachlan Pfeffer (Brisbane Heat – currently in Heat 18-player squad), Brayden Stepien (Melbourne Renegades).
Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat have been forced to field almost completely new-look teams in recent matches having had Covid-19 sweep through their squads with several players called up from grade and premier cricket. It led to Adam Zampa saying that it had threatened the integrity of the tournament.
“A player can then contracted by and suit up for any club as a local replacement player under the existing KFC BBL contracting rules, which requires a replacement player drafted into a team’s squad to be selected in the final 13 (including two X-factor subs) for the next game,” it said.
“The central pool creates an intriguing situation where a player could play against a team on one day before lining up alongside them in the next game,” it added.
It is not an unprecedented move; the Weber WBBL used a pool of both international and local replacement players last summer when all teams were based in a Sydney hub, with New Zealand fast bowler Rosemary Mair playing for both the Stars and the Renegades, and training with ‘home’ club Perth Scorchers.
The backup pool means there is now a chance of more players following Justin Avendano in representing multiple clubs in the same season. Avendano was recruited by the Stars and played two matches for them before being called up by his previous side, Sydney Sixers and playing against Perth Scorchers.
“The local replacement player pool is another example of the league and clubs working together to address the challenges of the season with innovative solutions,” Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash Leagues quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“The player pool provides clubs with increased options should injury, illness or other circumstances affect availability of players, while also streamlining the process of integrating LRPs into the group from a biosecurity perspective.”