The Big Bash League battle to sign South African superstar AB de Villiers is on.
De Villiers revealed on Wednesday, via a video message on Twitter, he’d ended an international cricket career spanning 114 Tests, 228 ODIs, 78 Twenty20s and numerous astonishing boundaries.
Several BBL clubs have since reached out to de Villiers’ management.
De Villiers, who has long been among the most in-demand players on the T20 circuit because of his batting talent, would be a blockbuster addition to any of the eight franchises.
Sydney’s two teams are among the BBL clubs to have made a play for the 34-year-old in the past, only for his international commitments to make it impossible, and they’re still keen.
The Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars are also expected to be in the hunt for the former South Africa skipper, should he become arguably the BBL’s biggest signing.
De Villiers noted in his retirement clip he had “no plans to play overseas”, having previously taken a sabbatical from Test cricket in 2016 to spend more time with his young family.
However, some in South Africa have taken those words to be a reference to a Kolpak county deal rather than short T20 stints.
The gifted right-hander, who was pivotal in the Proteas’ Test series win over Australia earlier this year, told the Sixers a month ago he had no plans to join the BBL.
“Last night, we touched base again with his manager,” Sydney Sixers general manager Jodie Hawkins said.
“We hope we’ll be in a pretty good position if he wants to come out.
“From a family point of view, we feel we offer a pretty attractive package in Sydney and he’s previously stated his love for the SCG.
“We’re very keen to have him, should he want to come out, but we also realise he said he’s keen to play domestic cricket in South Africa.”
The Sixers are yet to fill either of their two international spots for 2018-19, although they’re deep in negotiations with one target.
The Thunder, Stars and Renegades are also yet to announce their international signings for this summer.
Brisbane Heat coach Dan Vettori has a connection with de Villiers, having mentored him in the Indian Premier League at Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“Want to bat 3 for the @HeatBBL @ABdeVilliers17 .. I know a bloke,” Heat slugger Chris Lynn tweeted.
The Heat have already locked away former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and Shadab Khan, although the latter’s BBL participation will hinge on commitments with Pakistan.