Cricket Australia will make David Warner a big-money offer to play in this season’s Big Bash as part of a bid to revive the Twenty20 competition and head off potential court action by Channel Seven.
The offer is likely to start at $340,000, the same amount now available to top overseas players in a new BBL draft, and could rise beyond $500,000. This would reflect the value of the new IPL-dominated T20 competition in the UAE during the same January period.
It could prompt a significant pay rise for current BBL stars such as Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Marcus Stoinis, who are believed to be on between $100,000 and $200,000.
IPL teams own all six clubs in the UAE league, which is offering top players $700,000 for a tournament half the length of the two-month BBL.
Warner’s manager, James Erskine, declined to discuss details but claimed he and his star client had a “good relationship” with CA. This is a considerable change from the days when Warner was banned for a year over the Cape Town sandpaper scandal in 2018 and handed a lifetime captaincy ban.
“We’re working with Cricket Australia to achieve the best outcome for everyone,” Erskine told the Herald and The Age. “My advice to David regarding his international career is to go out on his own terms.”
David Warner is still a dynamic T20 opener.Credit:Getty
This could mean that, form permitting, Warner, 35, takes part in Test tours of India and England next year, where he has struggled in the past, and is then part of the 50-over World Cup in India before finishing his international career during the 2023-24 home season.
Warner would likely keep playing in the IPL and could devote more time to the BBL and other leagues on the T20 circuit.
Significantly, Erskine said his star client could not play in the UAE league this season because it would be a breach of his agreement with CA. Player contracts prohibit involvement in overseas leagues during the home summer.
Warner has played just three BBL matches, the last in 2014, largely due to his international commitments, but remains a dynamic T20 opener. He was man of the series in Australia’s inaugural T20 World Cup triumph last November in the UAE.
Last month Seven West Media, which owns Channel Seven, took CA to court again over its $450 million broadcast deal, arguing that the governing body breached its contract relating to the quality and standards of the BBL.
Warner’s presence in the competition would be a major plank in rebuilding both the relationship with Seven and the ratings of the BBL, giving it a credibility boost heading into the next broadcast deal. The current six-year, $1.18 billion agreement with Seven and Fox expires in 2024.
The BBL was second only to the IPL when it began 12 years ago but now faces unprecedented competition from more lucrative T20 leagues in the UAE and South Africa, backed by capital from IPL franchise owners and other Indian companies, during the same January time slot.
During its infancy, the BBL lured box-office players such as Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen. Both earned $500,000 packages, which included contributions from broadcast deals, but this time CA will need to fund the Warner offer from its own pocket.
While expanding the BBL to a full home-and-away schedule over almost two months netted CA a massive broadcast deal, it reduced its appeal, with average crowds and ratings falling. BBL clubs now attract mostly second-tier overseas players with little star billing. This was compounded over the past two seasons with the restriction of COVID biosecurity bubbles.
Kurtis Patterson, who dominated for the Perth Scorchers last season, has signed with the Sydney Sixers.Credit:Getty Images
Another major factor is that Australia’s best players are usually unavailable because of international duties.
CA and state administrators became so inflexible last season that Steve Smith was refused permission to play in the BBL on a technicality when a New Zealand white-ball series was cancelled.
There is more space in the calendar this summer for Australia’s stars to play in the BBL after South Africa cancelled one-day matches during January in favour of their own, new T20 competition.
The Sydney Sixers’ latest signing, Kurtis Patterson, believes players should have the right to compete in overseas T20 competitions.
“I absolutely love playing the Big Bash and there are a lot of guys who feel the same, but having said that, it’s a free market,” said the NSW captain, who boasts a batting average of 144 from his two Tests in 2019.
“If guys thought that was best for them and their family, I’ve certainly got no personal prejudice against that,” said Patterson, whose signing announcement was to help promote BBL and WBBL tickets going on sale.
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