Big Bash aims for world stars to play
Foreign talents such as Kevin Pietersen and Sachin Tendulkar will be welcome in the Big Bash Twenty20 domestic tournament from next summer as Cricket Australia prepares its own version of the IPL in 2009-10.
Overseas players will be allowed to sign with state sides for next summer, the Herald can reveal, creating the possibility of internationals playing in the NSW team for the first time since Imran Khan in the 1980s.
It is the first phase of CA's plan to emulate the lucrative IPL series, which is expected to begin in two years and feature a host of recognised global stars alongside local players.
However, the chief executive of Cricket NSW, David Gilbert, believes a lack of money will make it extremely difficult to lure big-name, highly paid cricketers to Australian shores.
"I think if you're going to go the route of an overseas player you have to make sure it's a drawcard overseas player - someone who is going to tick the boxes not just as a player but someone who is going to appeal to the public and has a high profile.
"Someone like a Pietersen or [Andrew] Flintoff or a Tendulkar. My concern is that … Are we realistically going to have the finds available to us to attract those sorts of players? Because they're not going to come cheap.
"You presume Pietersen doesn't get out of bed unless it's a sizeable amount of money. That's what we've got to get our heads across."
Gilbert argues that fielding relatively unknown overseas players will not work. "It's one thing wanting your team to win with an overseas player, but it's also about the public wanting to watch that player.
"We could trawl English county cricket and find a very very good Twenty20 player, but it's someone that people here may never have heard of, and I don't think that's what we're trying to do here. We need to have someone who obviously plays good cricket but also appeals to the public.
"We can't get away from the fact that it's a domestic competition, so I can't imagine the funds available will be sizeable to the level I'm talking about, but who knows?"
Where the funds will come from will be decided after a discussion between CA, the states and the Australian Cricketers' Association.
With the Stanford Twenty20 match at the weekend rewarding $US1 million ($1.46 million) to each of the winning 11 players, and the six-week IPL offering six-figure contracts, cricketers are now earning huge amounts. The enticement of playing in the strongest domestic competition in the world is no longer enough to persuade even reserve players when they stand to earn far more in India or the West Indies.