Chris Lynn may be missing entirely from the Big Bash League this season after he was dumped from his perch as the Brisbane Heat’s chief crowd-puller, in a contract decision driven by Queensland Cricket’s selectors and board.
A year after he gave up the Heat captaincy, Lynn is now free in the market for other BBL clubs, at a time when Cricket Australia and broadcasters are desperate to maximise the tournament’s crowds and broadcast audiences in the final two years of the current rights deal with Foxtel and Seven.
While Lynn’s BBL returns have diminished markedly in recent years, the Queenslander has been one of the most damaging players in 20-over cricket over the past decade. Lynn has easily the most number of sixes hit (180), and only three other players – Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Ben McDermott – have passed the 100 mark.
BBL sources told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that Lynn and his management have informally approached numerous clubs about making a move. If the right price cannot be met he may well ply his trade in the UAE T10 league, followed by the new South Africa competition and then the Pakistan Super League. A lucrative new UAE T20 league is also in the works.
Queensland’s call on Lynn sums up one of the BBL’s existential questions in 2022 – is it primarily an entertainment product aimed at raising revenue and increasing the game’s audience, or is it a part of the pathway system on the road to national selection?
Alongside Maxwell with the Melbourne Stars, 32-year-old Lynn has been considered one of the most bankable entertainment propositions for the league over the past 11 seasons, customarily used by broadcasters and tournament organisers to sell the BBL. In 2017, he signed with the Heat for a five-year contract worth as much as $1 million.
Should he be lost to the tournament it would be seen as a significant loss for its saleability, particularly when the market for overseas players has never been more fierce and given top Australian players continue to give the BBL a wide berth due to a packed international schedule.
But Queensland’s chief executive Terry Svenson and the influential board director Ian Healy made it clear that the decision not to offer him a new deal was about improving the performance of the club – after winning the title in 2013, the Heat have made only two finals appearances since.
But the batsman’s output has dropped in recent times. During his most recent 24 T20 matches, dating back to early 2021, he has passed 50 just once while scoring at 124.79 per 100 balls, against a career strike rate of 142.19.