Sydney Sixers have lured cult hero Lloyd Pope away from South Australia, signing him up for this KFC BBL season.
Teenager Pope has quickly earned a strong following thanks to his record-breaking performance against England at the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year and his seven-wicket haul for the Redbacks a few weeks ago.
But with Adelaide Strikers, the defending BBL champions, having all but finalised their roster for the summer, the Sixers have swooped in.
Despite missing out on Pope, the Strikers will have plenty of leg-spin power to call on this season. Afghan star Rashid Khan – the world’s top-ranked T20 bowler – will return for another BBL campaign, as will 25-year-old Liam O’Connor, who played in last season’s final against Hobart Hurricanes.
The Strikers have already announced 16 of their 18 players for this season, with skipper Travis Head expected to fill one of the two remaining vacancies.
The Sixers, on the other hand, are on the hunt for wicket-taking bowlers given off-season recruit John Hastings will miss BBL|08 due to health reasons and Test spinner Nathan Lyon is set to miss a large chunk of the season on international duty.
"With spin an increasing weapon in T20, we have decided to bolster our options in this area and Lloyd has provided excellent results in his short career so far," said Sixers coach Greg Shipperd.
"I commend the SA supportive approach to our plan to sign Lloyd and trust that we will provide a suitable environment for his and our team progression."
Pope has joined fellow Redbacks leg-spinner Adam Zampa – who plays for Melbourne Stars - in moving away from Adelaide for the BBL.
SA also lost young leg-spinner Tom O’Connell to Victoria in the off-season, the teenager signing a three-year deal with the Vics.
Speaking after Pope’s impressive JLT Sheffield Shield showing last month, South Australia cricket boss Tim Nielsen was hopeful the flame-haired spinner would ultimately return home and play for the Strikers.
“Hopefully if Popey does go somewhere else it won’t be on a long-term deal,” Nielsen told News Corp.
“When we have space, we can certainly talk about it. We would love him in our system learning from Jason Gillespie and Rashid Khan.”
Current squad: Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Michael Cormack, David Grant, Colin Ingram (SA), Rashid Khan (AFG), Ben Laughlin, Jake Lehmann, Michael Neser, Liam O'Connor, Peter Siddle, Matt Short, Billy Stanlake, Jake Weatherald, Jon Wells, Nick Winter.
In: Matt Short (Renegades)
Unsigned from BBL|07: Jono Dean, Daniel Drew, Travis Head.
Roster spots to fill: two
Internationals signed: two
Current squad: Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Joe Denly (England), Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, John Hastings, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nathan Lyon, Peter Nevill, Stephen O'Keefe, Lloyd Pope, Henry Thornton.
In: Jack Edwards (rookie), John Hastings (Stars), Lloyd Pope
Out: Johan Botha (Hurricanes), Doug Bollinger (retired), Nic Maddinson (Stars).
Unsigned from BBL|07: Sam Billings (England), Jackson Bird, Jason Roy (England), Jordan Silk, Mitchell Starc.
Roster spots to fill: five
Internationals signed: one