Sixers dangle beach trump card to lure AB
THE Sydney Sixers are using the sparkling sands and idyllic ocean views of Coogee as the trump card in their bid to bring cricket superstar AB de Villiers to the Big Bash League.
Cross-town rivals the Thunder are also heavily chasing the once-in-a-generation batting wizard, with both Sydney franchises to face stiff competition for de Villiers' signature from the Melbourne Stars down in bleak city.
It's understood the Sixers have already reached out to de Villiers' management in the hours following his international retirement, and believe they can offer the 34-year-old and his young family the optimum summer lifestyle by the beach, where he would be put up.
International marquee players can command in excess of $200,000 a season to feature in the Big Bash, and de Villiers would be thrown extra money by Cricket Australia's new broadcast partners to be miked up and appear in their commentary, as Kevin Pietersen has cashed in on in recent seasons.
De Villiers, worth $2.2 million in the IPL, is desperate not to be seen as a mercenary for walking out on playing for his country and straight into the arms of Twenty20 franchises, but sources are confident one of cricket's greatest ever crowd pleasers will turn up in the Big Bash in due course.
It's understood Sydney is ideally the favoured location for family man de Villiers. He's previously been linked to the Thunder, while the Sixers have been keeping close tabs on his plans over recent months.
The Melbourne Stars are cashed up and have room to move after saying goodbye to Pietersen, but the Sixers will ask de Villiers what he'd rather look at - the deep blue of Coogee beach or a river, which can resemble the same colour as your morning coffee?
"We'd obviously be delighted to have AB at the Sixers, as every BBL club would," said Sixers general manager, Jodie Hawkins.
"I think we offer AB a great lifestyle choice, being based at the SCG which is a venue he enjoys playing at and living by the beach.
"Sydney really is the best place to be over the summer and I'm sure he and his family would have a great time here if he decided to join us."
The Thunder have enjoyed strong South African links in the past in former marquee man Jacques Kallis and recently departed coach, Paddy Upton, and will likely go hard at de Villiers, able to offer him convenient living in the heart of Sydney's CBD.
"We're currently working through our overseas options for the upcoming season. Sydney Thunder is always looking to sign high profile international players and AB de Villiers falls into that category," said Thunder general manager Lee Germon.
"With both Shane Bond and Mike Hussey (coach and assistant) over in India for the IPL, it has allowed us to take a closer look at some of our options."
Thunder captain Shane Watson has also been a past teammate of de Villiers in the IPL and the western-Sydney franchise believe the pair would be perfect mentors for their young list.
Both the Thunder and Sixers have one of their two international marquee spots up for grabs.
The Melbourne Stars have a strong link to de Villiers in their batting coach, Trent Woodhill, who has been working with the South African phenomenon at Royal Challengers Bangalore.
IPL links also give the Brisbane Heat great hope that they could land perhaps the biggest signing in the competition's history, with their coach Daniel Vettori, de Villiers' mentor from Bangalore.
In his retirement announcement, de Villiers said that he had "no plans to play overseas" - however those close to him interpret that as meaning, 'no plans at the time of his retirement'.
The money the BBL can offer is small fry compared to de Villiers' stunning $2.2 million pay packet in the IPL, but the South African must find ways to stay in form if he wants to maintain the mega salary he's getting from India.
Being South African, de Villiers has not earned the same astronomical wages from his international career as Australia's Test stars.