Australia’s ODI series against South Africa axed in boost for Big Bash League

Australia’s home ODI series against South Africa has been cancelled, opening the door for more international players to feature in the Big Bash League. The Proteas have pulled out of the three ODIs in January, scheduled for Hobart, Sydney and Perth, due to the new Twenty20 league in South Africa.

Cricket South Africa’s leaders last month told Cricket Australia they would not allow their players to stay in the country for the white-ball series in fear of compromising the launch of their own domestic T20 league. CA tried to find alternative dates for the matches but were unable to do so with a cramped schedule in 2023 involving a tour of India, an Ashes series and an ODI World Cup.

It now leaves a window after the New Year’s Test in Sydney for Australia’s multi-format players to feature in the much-maligned BBL. The Seven Network is trying to terminate its TV rights deal with CA because it has been unhappy with the state of the BBL during recent seasons.

“It is disappointing that Cricket South Africa will be unable to contest the ODI series in January,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said. “That said, we are delighted to be hosting South Africa for the three-Test series which includes the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests. We can’t wait to see fans back at the cricket this summer.”

Test captain Pat Cummins and fellow fast bowling Mitchell Starc have already ruled themselves out of featuring in this summer’s BBL. But Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Swepson, Nathan Lyon and Alex Carey are contracted to BBL franchises, while Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith have a desire to return to the competition if available.

The likes of Melbourne Stars guns Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa, Australia’s white-ball skipper Aaron Finch and Perth Scorchers pair Mitch Marsh and Ashton Agar will now be free to participate in the entire BBL if they are not called up to the Test squad.

Due to the ODI series being called off, CA have relocated two men’s T20Is to the Gabba and Optus Stadium in Perth, as well as a women’s international to Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.