AB shuns BBL to be ambassador for UAE T20

Former South Africa great AB de Villiers won't be playing in Australia's BBL.
Former South Africa great AB de Villiers won't be playing in Australia's BBL.

A new Twenty20 league in the United Arab Emirates has proven it means business, signing the Big Bash League's top target AB de Villiers as an ambassador.

De Villiers won't don the pads in UAE T20x, a new five-team tournament that will be in direct competition with Australia's BBL this summer.

But the South African superstar, who was actively pursued by a stack of BBL teams following his international retirement earlier this year, has been locked in to promote the T20 league that runs from December 19 until January 11.

"UAE T20x is a really exciting addition to the cricketing calendar," de Villiers said in a statement.

"Its ambition to give more young, emerging cricketers, from around the world, the chance to play this format alongside some of the world's best, is what really appealed to me."

Banned stars Steve Smith and David Warner are expected to be among the international stars courted by the T20 start-up.

Cricket Australia (CA) is set to bar its players from taking part in UAE T20x because it clashes with the BBL, although Mitchell Johnson will be one notable exception.

Pace icon Johnson has already retired from the BBL, citing the expanded season length, and intends to take part in the UAE tournament.

UAE T20x organisers insist development will be a major focus of the league.

Each franchise will have a 16-man squad that features six international stars, four emerging and junior players, three players from associate teams, and three players from the UAE national team.

The event is expected to have a much bigger salary cap than the BBL's $1.6 million per team.

Cricket boards from England, West Indies, South Africa and New Zealand have already given consent for their players to take part.

CA is unlikely to join that list.

"We're always going to prioritise our own domestic competitions. I don't think that is a surprise to anybody," BBL boss Kim McConnie told AAP last week.

Australian Associated Press