Covid spread: BBL relocates to Melbourne hub; launches player pool

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MELBOURNE: The Big Bash League has launched a centralised pool of replacement players to help clubs continue to field a team as the increasing number of COVID-19 cases disrupt the competition.

It development comes after the League confirmed all clubs would relocate to a Melbourne hub in a bid to combat the virus outbreaks.

A revised schedule from Monday until January 16 will see seven of the 11 scheduled matches played in Victoria, however some key games will still be played interstate, with teams to fly in and out on charter flights.

The League confirmed the pool on Monday morning and said each player would live under the BBL hub protocols and be assigned a 'home' club for logistical purposes.

A player can then be contracted by and suit up for any club as a local replacement player under the existing KFC BBL contracting rules, which requires a replacement player drafted into a team's squad to be selected in the final 13 (including two X-factor subs) for the next game.

For the remainder of the season clubs will be unable to sign local replacement players from outside the centralised pool unless approved by the BBL Technical Committee.

The League expects additional players to be added to the pool of nine in the coming days.

Local replacement players already in a club’s 18-player squad can remain with that club unless they are replaced by a returning primary player, which could see them join the centralised pool at the Technical Committee’s discretion.

Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia’s General Manager of Big Bash Leagues, said the League and clubs had been working together to address the challenges of the current season.

"The player pool provides clubs with increased options should injury, illness or other circumstances affect availability of players, while also streamlining the process of integrating LRPs into the group from a biosecurity perspective," he said.

Central LRP pool: Nicholas Bertus (Sydney Sixers), Jake Carder (Perth Scorchers), Iain Carlisle (Hobart Hurricanes), Daniel Drew (Adelaide Strikers), Jake Doran (Melbourne Stars), Lachlan Hearne (Sydney Thunder), Lachlan Pfeffer (Brisbane Heat – currently in the 18-player squad), Brayden Stepien (Melbourne Renegades)