Chris Lynn has wasted no time in the Big Bash courtship of AB de Villiers, making a cheeky approach to join the Brisbane Heat on social media following the South African superstar’s retirement bombshell.
De Villiers announced his immediate retirement from international cricket on Wednesday, putting the KFC BBL clubs on red alert – and Brisbane Heat star Lynn was quick to join the action.
The Heat already have Kiwi Brendon McCullum and Pakistan spinner Shadab Khan on their books for BBL|08, but with Pakistan set to spend a large chunk of the 2018-19 summer in South Africa, they could be in need of a replacement international.
Pakistan's three-format tour will stretch from December 19-February 6 and while the schedule for the Big Bash has yet to be revealed, the lengthy series could rule Shadab out entirely if he is able to cement his spot across all formats.
The Brisbane side has – somewhat unsurprisingly – confirmed their interest in the Proteas superstar and could have an ace up their sleeve in coach Daniel Vettori, who is also in charge of de Villiers’ IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.
A top three of Lynn, McCullum and de Villiers is a mouth-watering prospect for any BBL fan, but they’ll face stiff competition from all Big Bash clubs with an available international spot set to be quickly reassessing their plans in light of the South African’s announcement.
The Adelaide Strikers have already locked in Colin Ingram and Rashid Khan for BBL|08, while the Hobart Hurricanes have contracts with Joffra Archer and Tymal Mills.
The Perth Scorchers last season opted for just the one international in England allrounder David Willey, and the club is highly secretive about their contract list, making it hard to gauge their potential to make a play for de Villiers.
Melbourne Renegades last year had Dwayne Bravo and Mohammad Nabi, but have yet to confirm either for BBL|08, among rumours the club had parted ways with Bravo.
Cross-town rivals the Melbourne Stars have two vacancies on their books, following the retirement of Kevin Pietersen and de-listing of Luke Wright.
The Sydney Thunder are expected to heavily court Jamaican Andre Russell for a return to the club this summer, but that has not been confirmed, while their second international spot remains wide open. De Villiers' close friend and former Proteas teammate Jacques Kallis is a former Thunder player.
Perhaps the most well-positioned club is the Sydney Sixers. Last season they opted for Englishmen Jason Roy and Sam Billings as their imports before they were called away on international duty, and were replaced by Carlos Brathwaite and Joe Denly. The Sixers have also seen Nic Maddinson depart for the Stars.
The BBL will this summer expand to a full home-and-away 59-game season, including finals. The BBL|08 schedule has not been confirmed but could extend later into the summer. De Villiers’ international retirement would mean any club who signed him could expect to have him for the full tournament.
The 34-year-old did say he hoped to continue to represent his domestic team the Titans in South African cricket in his retirement announcement.
"I have no plans to play overseas. In fact, I hope I can continue to be available for the Titans in domestic cricket," he said.
That reference to overseas is not expected to preclude him from the Big Bash and other domestic T20 tournaments, but is a reference to taking up a Kolpak deal to play county cricket in England. Numerous South African players have quit international cricket to take Kolpak deals for financial security and stability in England, most recently South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel.
If de Villiers did choose to split his time between South Africa and Australia, he could join a Big Bash club as an international replacement player, which would put all eight clubs in the running to secure his signature.