Spin rushes back as BBL draft numbers explode

West Indian T20 megastar Andre Russell has balked at a return to the Big Bash and was absent from the final list of 376 male players nominated for the international player draft.

As expected, spin star Rashid Khan is set to return after reversing his proposed boycott after Cricket Australia canceled scheduled games against his native country Afghanistan, and he is expected to return to the Adelaide Strikers as a retention pick.

An influx of players from Pakistan dominated the nominations ahead of Sunday's draft. More than 30 national players, including Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Rizwan, were available to the eight BBL teams.

In all, players from 29 countries have signed up, including South African star Quinton de Kock and former West India captain Jason Holder.

But his compatriot Russell, who was a key player in last year's opening draft but was not selected despite receiving marketing money from CA, has not made an appointment as two other lucrative competitions, in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, cross paths with the BBL January.

The South African tournament also means that players like de Kock are only available for limited games, which could make them less attractive for the draft.

Last summer, the Melbourne Renegades finally signed Russell to a four-game deal that saw them through to the Finals.

Khan, the BBL's top international bowler, will be a platinum pick in the draft, with players in that category guaranteed up to $420,000 this season.

Despite the absence of players like Russell and England stars, including world champion captain Jos Buttler, Big Bash manager Alastair Dobson insisted the league had attracted “top talent”.

“The sheer volume and quality of the nominations for both drafts underscores the appeal of the Big Bash League to players from around the world and reinforces the competition's reputation for showcasing world-class talent and providing unparalleled entertainment,” he said.

“With the increase in Big Bash player payout pools this season, top international players will earn more than ever, underscoring the Big Bash League's continued commitment to fostering world-class competition.

“On behalf of the league and our clubs, we would like to thank all players and their agents around the world for their support of the Drafts and Big Bash Leagues.”

“We are looking forward to the drafts this Sunday with great anticipation.”

The final list of nominees for the WBBL draft also included 122 players, with both drafts taking place on Sunday, September 3rd.

The Melbourne Stars have the first pick in this year's draft after a weighted lottery in July, while the Thunder will have the first pick in the WBBL draft overall.

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