AB De Villiers signs up for BBL 09
AB De Villiers signs up for BBL 09

Which marquee man should your BBL team try to sign?

AFTER the Brisbane Heat secured the services of AB de Villiers for the second half of the forthcoming BBL season, the gauntlet has been laid down to the rest of the franchises to add similar - or as close as possible - star power to their own rosters.

The 35-year-old is one of the greatest batsmen of his generation and has been an in-demand figure for Twenty20 leagues around the world.

It marks a significant moment for a competition starved of major drawcards in recent seasons.

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Standout overseas performers like Rashid Khan at the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades' Mohammad Nabi have thrilled crowds with their quality, without brining the box office to a competition that is built for showmanship.

There are options out there, however, with some more likely additions than others …

 

Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan celebrating after England's destruction of Australia in the semi-final of this year's World Cup - and the Irishman holding aloft the trophy at Lord's - may not have been enjoyable viewing for Australian cricket fans.

But the World Cup winning captain's calm stewardship of an England side he did more than most to transform from a rabble four years prior in to a free scoring machine marks him out as a current superstar of the short form game.

World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan would bring leadership and runs to any team.
World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan would bring leadership and runs to any team.

Vision of him striking 17 sixes - the most in a one-day international innings - in a blistering century as England crushed Afghanistan by 150 runs in a World Cup group match - surely should be enough to convince BBL administrators to go after his signature.

Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann sounded out Morgan earlier this year, though the signing of De Villiers suggests that came to nothing and the Irishman is still on the market.

Morgan had a stint with the Sydney Thunder previously. Though now older and wiser his leadership and big match experience as much as his batting pedigree suggests he could provide a better return second time around.

 

Babar Azam

Currently the world's No. 1 ranked T20 batsman, Babar was Pakistan's top scorer in this year's World Cup, making the top 10 list despite an uneven performance from the team.

A classy stroke maker, his unbeaten 101 guided Pakistan to victory in a must-win match against New Zealand chasing 238, and half centuries against England and South Africa showcased his class.

Still in his early 20s, Babar has his best years ahead of him and, national commitments notwithstanding (there is a window in Pakistan's schedule this summer following a tour to, conveniently, Australia) he could become a long term fixture in the BBL if a deal could be struck.

At the top of his game this year, his latest century in short form cricket took Pakistan to victory over Sri Lanka in an emotional fixture in Karachi this week.

His eight fours and four sixes in a knock of 115 saw him pass 1,000 ODI runs for the calendar year from 19 innings, making him the fastest Pakistani to achieve that feat.

Dale Steyn knows how to take wickets on Australia decks.
Dale Steyn knows how to take wickets on Australia decks.
 

Dale Steyn

At 35 and recently bedevilled by a string of injuries - the latest which kept him out of the World Cup earlier this year, much to South Africa's detriment - Steyn's body no longer holds up to the demands of long form cricket.

But one of the all-time pace bowling greats still has the fire to contribute in short, sharp bursts.

The right arm quick has more than 400 Test wickets to his name and a staggering strike rate of 41.5 in Test matches.

A combatant in a number of fiery contests between South Africa and Australia over the years, he is well known to the local audience and would bring genuine star quality to any BBL roster.

And any aspiring pace bowler able to spend a summer with him would undoubtedly benefit from his wealth of experience, too.

Steyn made himself available for South African selection for T20 matches but was a surprising omission from the squad that played out a series in India this month, making a BBL appearance even more likely.

 

Yuvraj Singh

The BBCI bars its active players from taking part in franchise leagues other than the IPL, but Yuvraj's recent retirement would make it likely for the Indian board to approve him taking up a BBL contract if offered.

It would be a massive coup, with the World Cup winner offering the complete package of big hitting and game smarts he has demonstrated over a stellar career.

Yuvraj Singh is poised to enjoy an Indian summer in franchise leagues around the world.
Yuvraj Singh is poised to enjoy an Indian summer in franchise leagues around the world.

A regular multimillion-dollar pick up in IPL auctions, the ODI champion has a career strike rate of 128.76 across 231 T20s that have seen him score close to 5000 runs.

Even in his late 30s Yuvraj would be both a draw card for the Indian diaspora in Australia and a guaranteed source of runs when in the mood.

And in a recent interview the veteran issued something close to a come and get me call to prospective employers.

"I want to play T20 cricket. At this age I can manage to play some kind of fun cricket. I want to go and enjoy my life. It's been too stressful just thinking about my international career, performing and big tournaments like the IPL," he said.

"Now I would like to enjoy myself. With BCCI's permission I would like to go and play. Just have fun for this year and maybe next year, whatever is left in me. It's been a very long and hard journey and I think I deserve that."

 

Jonny Bairstow

After an Ashes series to forget with the bat for the erstwhile England wicketkeeper, Bairstow has been dropped from their tour of New Zealand and told to go back to County Cricket next year and work on his game.

Still a member of England's T20 squad, his international schedule may not allow for a full Big Bash stint. However, with a T20 World Cup next year the 30-year-old may be tempted to cash in on his still high standing in white ball cricket and pursue options in franchise cricket sooner rather than later.

Forming a devastating partnership opening for the Sunrisers in the IPL last season with David Warner, Bairstow would be a safe bet to succeed in Australia's T20 league and his combative relationship with Australian crowds would add spice and interest.

His 532 runs at 48.36 made him the sixth most productive batsman at the World Cup and he ranked one place higher in the IPL in 2019, plundering 445 runs in 10 matches at 55.62.

South African star Morne Morkel could be a Big Bash revelation.
South African star Morne Morkel could be a Big Bash revelation.

Morne Morkel

Another South African great now retired from the international scene, Morkel has continued to prove his devastating quality with performances of high standard for English Country Championship side Surrey.

After going out on the high of a series win against Australia, local fans here are all too aware of the lethal threat the tall quick carries.

Morkel is married to an Australian and has recently relocated to Sydney with his young family. He could even qualify as a local player for the following season if he satisfies the requirements to become a permanent resident, though would still be classed as an import for BBL09.

"I'm open to any possibilities and opportunities that come my way because I'm going to base myself in Australia for the next couple of years or however long it may be," he told cricket.com.au. "Australia's going to be my home so I'm definitely trying to get my foot in the door."

With no national team commitments to impede him and a stated desire to extend his career in Australian domestic cricket, there is seemingly nothing to prevent him picking up a contract.