The first handful of overseas stars who have signed up for the tournament were released on Tuesday, and included many of the biggest names on the T20 circuit, including Rashid Khan, Chris Gayle, David Warner, Aaron Finch and Babar Azam.
The full list of overseas players ahead of the main player draft on October 20 includes players from 11 different countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ireland and Nepal.
The most notable absentee comes in the form of AB de Villiers, who had previously expressed his interest in playing in the competition. De Villiers said in January that he was open to playing in the tournament, but ESPNcricinfo understands that he has no plans to do so.
It is understood that de Villiers’ primary concern is not about money – the top band of draft picks will be paid £125,000 for their involvement in the tournament – but instead scheduling, with each team’s eight group games spread out over the course of a month rather than a shorter time period.
He is due to play in the Big Bash League this winter for Brisbane Heat, and remains one of the most sought-after figures on the global T20 circuit, so his non-involvement represents something of a blow to the competition.
As anticipated, India’s white-ball stars like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have not entered the draft, in line with the BCCI’s refusal to allow active internationals to play in overseas domestic leagues that rival the IPL. Harbhajan is the only Indian player to have registered, and may have to announce his retirement from international cricket if he is picked up.
That said, the full list of overseas players still includes the vast majority of the world’s top T20 players, and the tournament comes during a quiet period in the Future Tours Programme.
Eight players have set their reserve price at the highest possible salary of £125,000 (USD155,000). They are the Australian trio Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and David Warner, South Africans Quinton de Kock, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada, and T20 legends Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle.
Seventeen overseas players have entered with a reserve price of £100,000 (USD124,000), including Harbhajan, Russell, Maxwell, Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Sandeep Lamichhane, Shahid Afridi, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard.
Players with a £75,000 (USD93,000) base price include Dale Steyn, Babar, Marcus Stoinis and Mohammad Hafeez. Nicholas Pooran, Martin Guptill, Faheem Ashraf and Shaheen Afridi have £60,000 (USD74,000) base prices.
Imad Wasim, D’Arcy Short, Evin Lewis and Mitchell Santner headline those with a £50,000 (USD62,000) base price, while Thisara Perera, Alex Carey, Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer could get picked up for as little as £40,000 (USD50,000).
Sixty-seven players have not set a reserve price, meaning that they could be paid as little as £30,000 (USD37,000) for their involvement in the competition. Potential moneyball-style picks without a reserve price include Chris Green, Ashton Turner, Fabian Allen and Adam Milne.
The ECB’s attempts to bring the game to a new audience could be furthered if some of the six Afghanistan players or the six Bangladeshis are selected. Both teams’ World Cup games were well-attended, and the ECB’s research suggested that the “demographic profile” for ticket-buyers is wider for international than domestic fixtures.
The Afghanistan players in the draft are Rashid, Qais Ahmad, Zahir Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, while Mohammad Mithun, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mustafizur Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib and Tamim are the Bangladesh players on the long list.
Several players, including Lamichhane, Lynn and Narine are beneficiaries of the ECB’s decision to change their visas regulations. Until this season, players had to have played at least one Test or 15 white-ball internationals in the preceding 24 months for an ICC Full Member to qualify for a ‘governing body endorsement’ from the ECB, necessary for any player hoping to apply for a visa.
But with The Hundred in mind, the ECB successfully lobbied the Home Office to change those stipulations, with a clause added allowing those who have played at least 20 T20 games in the past 24 months to secure an endorsement.
Paul Stirling is the lone Irish representative in the longlist, as he now qualifies as an overseas player. Stirling is in an unusual situation as a British passport holder but an Ireland international, and recently told the Telegraph that he was “baffled” about the fact he would have to play as a non-local.
Each team will be permitted three overseas players in their squad and in their playing XI.