The Big Bash League’s plans of boosting international star power through an overseas player draft have suffered another major setback with No.1 pick Liam Livingstone withdrawing from the tournament.
Livingstone was taken by the Melbourne Renegades with the first pick in the inaugural KFC BBL Draft and was expected to be available for the club’s opening eight games of the season before leaving for South Africa’s new domestic T20 league.
However, since the draft on August 28, the 29-year-old big-hitting allrounder was announced a surprise inclusion in the England Test squad for their three-match tour of Pakistan in December which ruled him out of the Renegades’ first four games of BBL|12.
It’s now been confirmed that Livingstone, who was part of England’s T20 World Cup triumph earlier this month, has withdrawn from the remainder of the tournament due to his increased international workload.
The Renegades secured Andre Russell earlier this month for their opening four matches to replace the Englishman after the superstar West Indian allrounder was overlooked in the draft.
Russell’s availability will remain at just those four matches but the Renegades are believed to be close to securing another replacement with greater availability for the rest of the season rather than the period that Livingstone has withdrawn from.
“We’re obviously disappointed that we won’t have Liam as part of our team this summer, but we understand his decision,” said Renegades General Manager James Rosengarten.
“Liam is a fantastic cricketer and there’s a reason we used our first pick in the draft to select him.
“Since then, his schedule has changed with added international duties, and we wish him the best as he pushes for a Test debut.
“This news has allowed us to explore replacement options with greater availability beyond the first half of the tournament, and we look forward to being able to announce another big-name addition for the Renegades soon.”
Rosengarten said Livingstone had been looking forward to working with Renegades’ head coach David Saker, who was part of the England coaching team during their successful World Cup campaign, and he was hopeful they could make that happen in the coming seasons.
But an added blow for the Renegades is that with Livingstone not playing a match at all during BBL|12, it means they will be unable to use their retention pick to secure one of the world’s most sought-after T20 players should he enter next year’s BBL Draft.
The Big Bash has now lost two of its platinum-level picks for this summer after the Sydney Thunder’s No.7 selection David Willey also withdrew from the entire tournament a week ago.
League officials were hopeful the big money on offer through the overseas player draft would help attract greater top-end international talent to the Big Bash, which was one of the criticisms of the tournament over the recent pandemic-impacted seasons.
David Warner is set to end a nine-year BBL absence at the Thunder this season, while New Zealand’s star left-armer Trent Boult will play in the competition for the first time and Pakistan’s Shadab Khan, who dominated the recent T20 World Cup in Australia , will line up for the Hobart Hurricanes.
The Renegades had been hoping Livingstone would help them avoid their fourth-consecutive wooden spoon as they look to rebound from a disappointing three seasons since claiming the BBL|08 title.
The Renegades, who also drafted spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Akeal Hosein with picks nine and 25, have already signed former Sri Lankan first-class player turned Victorian leg-spinner Ruwantha Kellapotha as another overseas replacement players.
They will begin their BBL|12 campaign on December 15 against the Brisbane Heat in Cairns, with their first home game on December 18 against the Thunder at Marvel Stadium.
Melbourne Renegades BBL|12 Squad (so far): Nic Maddinson (c), Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Akeal Hosein (West Indies), Ruwantha Kellapotha (Sri Lanka), Shaun Marsh, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Corey Rocchiccioli, Tom Rogers, Andre Russell (West Indies), Will Sutherland, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Jon Wells