Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Why Babar Azam, Chris Gayle and others found no takers at The Hundred player draft

A look at some of the top white-ball cricketers who did not get picked on Sunday

The draft for the inaugural edition of The Hundred set the tone for next year’s carnival, with some of the best white-ball players on the planet getting picked by the eight teams on Sunday.

The 100-ball competition is set to capture the imagination of fans next year with the city-based tournament finally bringing franchise cricket to the UK.

However, since there were limited spots available – 239 overseas and 331 domestic players were in the draft – most were going to be disappointed. By the end of the draft, some big names found no takers. Here we take a look at eight players to miss out.

Babar Azam

This was the biggest surprise of the night. The world's No 1 T20 International batsman was the top scorer in the T20 Blast playing for Somerset and was recently named 20-over captain of Pakistan. But he still didn’t get picked, and one of the reasons given was doubts over his availability next year as Pakistan play a Test series against England around that time. However, Test regular Shaheen Afridi was picked in the draft, which makes Babar’s exclusion curious.

Even a low base price of £75,000 (Dh357,000) didn’t entice teams.

Chris Gayle

The "Universe Boss" had warned earlier that any new tournament has to have him at the start in order to succeed. “If I don’t start it, it won’t be a tournament,” Gayle said. “I guess England should invite me over. Then I’ll explode the tournament and say: ‘Thank you guys, bring in a youngster now.’ I will set the trend for you like I did in all tournaments around the world.”

It was a great pitch but no team went for his base price of £125,000. At 40 years of age, maybe Gayle’s top franchise cricket days are drawing to a close.

Shakib Al Hasan

Another star who didn’t make the cut but the reasons behind it seem more acceptable. The Bangladesh all-rounder had a base price of £100,000 and after a sensational World Cup in England with bat and ball, should have been first choice. However, with Bangladesh scheduled to play Tests in July next year, the chances of him getting clearance from his national board were slim. Which is probably why teams didn’t go for him.

However, Shakib on Monday led a player strike, suspending cricket in Bangladesh over demands of better wages. It will be interesting to see where Shakib and the Bangladesh board stand next year.

Lasith Malinga

Another incredible omission. The Sri Lankan slinger has reinvented himself in 2019 and is very much on top of his white-ball game, taking four wickets in four balls against New Zealand recently – the second time he has achieved that feat in his career.

But according to spin legend Shane Warne, Malinga had outpriced himself by choosing the top tier of £125,000. But if an in-form match-winner won’t command top dollar, then who will?

Kagiso Rabada

The South African pace spearhead lost most of his edge in 2019. His pace is down, he was average at the World Cup and was negotiated expertly by batsmen in India. Rabada should have been red hot now but has generally been off his game. There is a fear he has been overbowled, which is evident in his returns.

All those asterisk with a base price of £125,000 put teams off.

Kieron Pollard

The hard-hitting all-rounder has been a regular in franchise cricket across the globe. While his bowling is not as reliable as it used to be, his hitting power seemed enough to warrant the £100,000 base price. The teams didn’t think so though.

There is a view that Pollard doesn’t really go after top quality pacers, which is probably why he didn’t find too many takers. He was recently named the West Indies’ white-ball captain, so the snub would have come as a surprise.

Dwayne Bravo

Bravo was once the face of franchise cricket, with his dance routines, music and all-round skills having teams clamouring for his signature. But at 36, the sting seems to be going out of Bravo’s bowling and his bat has not set the stage alight consistently for a long time.

The Caribbean star was in the second highest price range of £100,000 but didn’t get the nod.

Quinton de Kock

The South African gloveman seems to have it all – fine keeper, top class opener and a hard hitting batsman. But the southpaw couldn’t attract a bid, which is understandable to a degree as the current South African team is struggling in all formats.

If South African cricket continues to suffer in the international arena, the returns will diminish for its players elsewhere.

Updated: October 21, 2019 10:02 PM

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