Australia news May 19, 2011

Twenty20 hasn't peaked - McKenna

25

Mike McKenna, project owner of the Big Bash League, insists that Twenty20's popularity has not yet peaked, despite a rising tide of evidence to the contrary.

A slackening of interest in this year's Indian Premier League, including television ratings in free-fall, suggests the format is no longer attracting new fans. So too does the fact that English cricket has been compelled to reduce the size of its sprawling domestic T20 competition for 2012, following a raft of poor attendances last summer.

Nonetheless, McKenna and Cricket Australia remain intent on pushing T20 as a bold new product during the inaugural BBL in 2011-12, as six state teams give way to eight manufactured city-based franchises sporting names such as the Sixers, the Thunder, the Renegades and the Scorchers. Seeking an additional revenue stream to ultimately rival that provided by the national team, CA and the states will suffer a significant hit if the T20 league does not capture the public mood.

McKenna is not shy about the fact the tournament has been closely modelled on the IPL experience, even though the differences between cricket's place in Australia and India are stark.

"I think we're a long way from the peak of this sort of competition around the world," McKenna said. "There are a lot of people still feeling the game out, what's the right way to play it, what's the right way to promote it, where to play games, what's the right number of teams.

"England had 18 teams playing 151 games, right at the back-end of the World Cup soccer, which was the primary interest for English fans. So who knows what a different structure will do for them, but there's no doubt there's an appetite for cricket, and particularly among young people and women the appetite for Twenty20 cricket is huge.

"So you put the right product on and promote it the right way, it'll be successful. But we want to make sure that other forms of the game have a place in that too. So domestic T20, international one-day cricket and Test cricket are the priorities for Australia, those three forms of the game ahead of everything else."

The simultaneous creation of eight new teams with no strong regional ties means the early seasons of the BBL will have to ride on waves of interest in the format itself and the players who take part. However the probable lack of many Australian and overseas stars, with the exception of West Indians such as Chris Gayle, may leave the teams without much of an initial selling point at all. McKenna argued the landscape allowed for new players to emerge as purely T20 identities, with internationals viewed merely as a bonus.

"One of the challenges we have is we've got a lot of big name players in Australia, but we really want to build another level of player that has the chance to engage with the public," he said. "At the moment we have 25 CA-contracted players, who are more often than not playing or on tour. What we want to introduce is another level of player who can really excite the fans.

"We've seen that with David Warner, who's not a Test player or a one-day player on a regular basis but can excite the fans. So if we can take those guys who are available into schools, shopping centres and where kids are, to clinics, it's a chance for us to really connect with the fans where we can't at the moment. The big-name players would be the icing on the cake for us."

Oddly given that each team has so far been counselled against allying itself too closely to a particular region or state - to the point that clubs were forbidden from using state colours - McKenna said each team had to mean something to its city in order to win genuine supporters and develop a club mentality.

"If you look at every club around Australia who are successful, they stand for something," he said. "Collingwood and Essendon football clubs, Wests Tigers, South Sydney, they've all got something that really appeals to their fanbase. For us that's the biggest thing we've got to create that meaningful connection with fans, and that's something we've been working on with all the teams for the past two months, what the team stands for."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KingofRedLions on May 20, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    CA continues to stick its fingers in its ears. Lalalala.

  • Gizza on May 20, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    @Cpt Meanster, your post is suspicious because only Aussies regularly use the word "Pom". Americans don't use that word. Anyway, you sound like you want every aspect of British culture to die. Ok truth be told British influence over the world is declining (generally and in cricket). But American isn't too flash either. Judging from your political remarks and predictions, everyone in the future will be playing Judo/Martial Arts (Chinese sport) and Kabaddi (Indian/Subcontinental) instead of cricket, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, basketball (All British/American sports).

  • Biggus on May 20, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Indeed, our friend seems to have an almost pathological hatred of the English, and by extension everybody who likes test cricket, so we're all guilty. Who would have known. Lucky he dropped in to set us on the straight and narrow. Saved us from a life of sin, he did. Maybe his puppy was run over by a busload of test cricketers.

  • Philvdk on May 20, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster is comparing baseball to T20?? You're kidding aren't you? The same as you yanks say test cricket is boring, we aussies have the same opinion about baseball. Now there is a dead boring game if ever there was one. I remember going to a game in the states once. I think they hit the ball about 5 times and scored about 2 runs. Only further reinforced my low opinion of the game. Mate, why would you say you can't wait for test cricket to die? You don't have to watch it. Stick to your T20 short attention span game and leave the true game of cricket to the real fans. I don't hope baseball dies. I just never watch the crap.

  • on May 20, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    Cpt. Meanster, that's pathetic and insulting to all the people who have played the game and allowed it to survive up until the point Twenty/20 could exist. Without test cricket, none of this would be possible, and teste between countries is more enthralling than the 'Sydney Sixers' vs the 'Hobart Heroes' or whatever they're calling them. The states had fan bases and used Twenty/20 for what it was, cheap entertainment and a gateway into the proper forms of the game.

    Test cricket, hence the name, is the ultimate test and is still the format everyone wishes to succeed in. Saying that you dislike test cricket because it is British and then praising Twenty/20 cricket (which was also created in Britain) is simply stupid and arrogant. The format is a joke, the administration is a joke and world cricket is dying thanks to this cheap, Americanised version of our once great sport.

    Bravo CA, for ruining cricket, one stupid decision at a time.

  • _Australian_ on May 20, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    @cpt. Meanster. You say you dislike anything "British". Well T20 was invented in England buddy so you might want to stick to those terrible American sports.

  • smudgeon on May 20, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    I can't figure out if Cpt.Meanster is being sarcastic, genuine or just trolling. Whatever they're up to, the comment is worth a chuckle.

  • bobagorof on May 20, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - I don't know why you thought it would be a good idea to come to a cricket forum and rubbish the game. If you like baseball, that's fine - go watch baseball. If you like the Twenty20 format, watch Twenty20. There's no need to gleefully wait for the death of a game (Test cricket) you don't watch, just because you don't like it (and hence don't watch it). Personally I don't like watching Twenty20 and it seems from the other comments that Australians as a whole aren't going to take to this league the way they did to World Series Cricket 40 years ago. If Cricket Australia is banking on the new league bringing in the dollars then they will find themselves in a pretty dire financial situation.

  • threeheadedmonkey on May 20, 2011, 0:28 GMT

    Terrible, terrible, terrible idea. Don't they realize when the whole current cricketing fanbase is pointing out how bad an idea this is that maybe they should leave things how they are? The IPL is already dropping in popularity (and to be honest most Australians i know/read things from online all hate the IPL) so why are we moving to this model? Stadiums aren't even filled for the current t20 comp so why would they suddenly be filled for a comp that doesn't include the Australian team players and is made up of teams noone has herd of and noone has any loyalty to. Total utter rubbish, i don't expect this to last long once the indian money bringers realize it isn't profitable here.

  • blackmagic123 on May 19, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    the end of cricket as much as i hate to say it

  • KingofRedLions on May 20, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    CA continues to stick its fingers in its ears. Lalalala.

  • Gizza on May 20, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    @Cpt Meanster, your post is suspicious because only Aussies regularly use the word "Pom". Americans don't use that word. Anyway, you sound like you want every aspect of British culture to die. Ok truth be told British influence over the world is declining (generally and in cricket). But American isn't too flash either. Judging from your political remarks and predictions, everyone in the future will be playing Judo/Martial Arts (Chinese sport) and Kabaddi (Indian/Subcontinental) instead of cricket, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, basketball (All British/American sports).

  • Biggus on May 20, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Indeed, our friend seems to have an almost pathological hatred of the English, and by extension everybody who likes test cricket, so we're all guilty. Who would have known. Lucky he dropped in to set us on the straight and narrow. Saved us from a life of sin, he did. Maybe his puppy was run over by a busload of test cricketers.

  • Philvdk on May 20, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster is comparing baseball to T20?? You're kidding aren't you? The same as you yanks say test cricket is boring, we aussies have the same opinion about baseball. Now there is a dead boring game if ever there was one. I remember going to a game in the states once. I think they hit the ball about 5 times and scored about 2 runs. Only further reinforced my low opinion of the game. Mate, why would you say you can't wait for test cricket to die? You don't have to watch it. Stick to your T20 short attention span game and leave the true game of cricket to the real fans. I don't hope baseball dies. I just never watch the crap.

  • on May 20, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    Cpt. Meanster, that's pathetic and insulting to all the people who have played the game and allowed it to survive up until the point Twenty/20 could exist. Without test cricket, none of this would be possible, and teste between countries is more enthralling than the 'Sydney Sixers' vs the 'Hobart Heroes' or whatever they're calling them. The states had fan bases and used Twenty/20 for what it was, cheap entertainment and a gateway into the proper forms of the game.

    Test cricket, hence the name, is the ultimate test and is still the format everyone wishes to succeed in. Saying that you dislike test cricket because it is British and then praising Twenty/20 cricket (which was also created in Britain) is simply stupid and arrogant. The format is a joke, the administration is a joke and world cricket is dying thanks to this cheap, Americanised version of our once great sport.

    Bravo CA, for ruining cricket, one stupid decision at a time.

  • _Australian_ on May 20, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    @cpt. Meanster. You say you dislike anything "British". Well T20 was invented in England buddy so you might want to stick to those terrible American sports.

  • smudgeon on May 20, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    I can't figure out if Cpt.Meanster is being sarcastic, genuine or just trolling. Whatever they're up to, the comment is worth a chuckle.

  • bobagorof on May 20, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - I don't know why you thought it would be a good idea to come to a cricket forum and rubbish the game. If you like baseball, that's fine - go watch baseball. If you like the Twenty20 format, watch Twenty20. There's no need to gleefully wait for the death of a game (Test cricket) you don't watch, just because you don't like it (and hence don't watch it). Personally I don't like watching Twenty20 and it seems from the other comments that Australians as a whole aren't going to take to this league the way they did to World Series Cricket 40 years ago. If Cricket Australia is banking on the new league bringing in the dollars then they will find themselves in a pretty dire financial situation.

  • threeheadedmonkey on May 20, 2011, 0:28 GMT

    Terrible, terrible, terrible idea. Don't they realize when the whole current cricketing fanbase is pointing out how bad an idea this is that maybe they should leave things how they are? The IPL is already dropping in popularity (and to be honest most Australians i know/read things from online all hate the IPL) so why are we moving to this model? Stadiums aren't even filled for the current t20 comp so why would they suddenly be filled for a comp that doesn't include the Australian team players and is made up of teams noone has herd of and noone has any loyalty to. Total utter rubbish, i don't expect this to last long once the indian money bringers realize it isn't profitable here.

  • blackmagic123 on May 19, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    the end of cricket as much as i hate to say it

  • Meety on May 19, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - right on brother, you are the funniest dude on this site! Keep it coming, it is highly amusing! -- Anyways re: Big Bash. I can't believe anybody would be dumb enough to invest in a franchise when there is no guarantee that a) Any Oz stars will be available & b) a large chunk of Big Bash matches will be drowned out by either the New Years Test & the ensuing bi-lateral ODIs. c) Probable Oz tour at the end of Jan early Feb. Its Financial suicide. I understand (don't agree), the principles behind non-state franchises, how Geelong, Newcastle, or Gold Coast weren't represented I'll never know. The competition itself will do okay - worried that there may be some dilution in talent, & not sure if it is practical for an East Coast Shield/List A player to play in Perth & vice versa. It will be very interesting to see if any of these obstacles will be sorted. I think there are a few careers, (Administration), in the balance on this!!!

  • on May 19, 2011, 22:24 GMT

    At last I have read a positive comment about BBL, but then it was from an American who doesn't understand our game. Let's play baseball, I so enjoy watching your world series with no world teams, or your gridiron which only America play. If you don't like something turn it off the TV or don't go to the game, that's my support for American sports, same with BBL the public will vote soon with there feet, Administators will scratch there head and wonder where we went wrong, some big wig will get the bullet from his job to appease the crowds and for the administrators to save face. Why are we reinventing the wheel? No I won't be watching but luckily for us there will be other real cricket on at the same time to enjoy. Good luck Cricket Australia you are going to need it.

  • jonesy2 on May 19, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    i dont like this mckenna bloke and that fact that ive never heard of him before isnt a good thing. one thing is for sure, this isnt going to do any good for australian cricket. to be honest i think im not alone in saying nobody really takes t20 cricket seriously and it really is just a bit of fun and games between to real cricket (test cricket). and pigeon holing guys like warner is not a good thing and i doubt warner would like it because he would be working towards being a test star and for every australian that plays cricket, for a club team or for a sheffield shield team, the top of the mountain is wearing a baggy green cap and winning in a baggy green cap. we lose the ashes to an average pommy team and what do we do? make a new t20 league. not good....really not good. as far as it being a failure, it cant be a failure, thats not the problem

  • Cpt.Meanster on May 19, 2011, 18:08 GMT

    To all you sympathizers of test cricket, your format is going to die soon in the next few years. As an American I dislike anything British and to me test cricket screams "BRITISH". Indians, Australians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis who love test cricket are sympathizers of the poms. I don't want that and I don't care about that. I love T20 and it's on par with baseball and other American pro sport. I ain't got a whole day or 5 days in test cricket's case to watch 22 guys play a game of cat n mouse. It's boring as hell and I don't even get to be assured of a result, pathetic. To me T20 cricket is a lot easier to understand and follow although some of the IPL teams could do well with a jersey make over. Test cricket will die and I can't wait for that.

  • on May 19, 2011, 14:56 GMT

    Even if I dont consider IPL(as Pakistan is not part of it), I cant even watch Pakistan's T20 matches with interest anymore. For me the difference between T20 and a One day game is similar to the difference between A FAD and A TREND.

  • on May 19, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    It's a real shame how badly this is going to fail. Cricket Australia have out done themselves this time with another mass screw up.

  • on May 19, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    If you want to pay the dead cricketers pay but please do not kill cricket ipl is an eyesore I am sure that you will not publish it.

  • PeteB on May 19, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    With the arrival of this new Big Bash I will never get to see my side, NSW, play T20 cricket again. That is a sad state of affairs for a team with such long history in cricket. No amount of marketing will get me to follow these new teams. Least of all an inferior format.

  • Winsome on May 19, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    I'd rather call the WA team... the WA team. McKenna is CA's marketing guru and you can't help but feel he's going about this the wrong way. David Warner is one of the uglist shot-makers going and has a limited range of shots on top of that. Why try and make a player like that any bigger a star than he already is?

  • Biggus on May 19, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    I couldn't agree with him less. Wishful thinking and marketing spin, the lot of it, not surprising considering his role as "project owner of the Big Bash League". He's hardly an unbiased observer is he? The last thing in the world he's going to say is what we're all thinking, that it's a dodgy concept for the Australian market. There's something surreal about these marketing 'gurus', always waffling on about how truly wonderful the emperor's new clothes are when all the rest of us can see is a naked man. I couldn't care less about the 'Western watermelons' or the 'Sydney supercalifragicexpialidocious'. Save us from a world of 'Milo maiden overs' and 'Optus offcutters'. Burn it with fire and wake me up when it's over please.

  • Lees_Legends on May 19, 2011, 10:43 GMT

    Id never heard anything about this McKenna guy until now and already I don't like him

  • Blokker on May 19, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Collingwood and Essendon, West Tigers, South Sydney, they've all got something all right. It's called tradition. Good luck in creating that, you'll need it.

  • andrew.henshaw on May 19, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    I'm sorry to say, but this is going to be an EPIC failure. What was wrong with State vs State? The only competition (in recent history in any sport) that has been created out of thin air was the IPL, which had indian stars, international superstars, truckloads of money, a HUGE fanbase and no meaningful clashing international fixtures. Contrast this to Australia, with little international drawcards and headline australian players. Furthermore, any attempt to see these markets as similiar at all is extremely naive, if not downright stupid. A far better alternative would be to create an AUS/NZ competition (6 AUS states, 2-4 NZ teams). A PNG team could also eventually be added. Either way, I foresee a return to State v State by 2012-13.

  • on May 19, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    I miss watching a good test series with good, competitive teams. I will admit to following the first IPL. The Second I watched a few games, the third I hardly watched and the fourth was not even shown on TV and I have hardly followed, nor cared. I want to sit back and watch two great test teams battle for 5 days, I love it haha :). I'm 17 btw, just for those saying my generation loves T20 only. Disappointed at the test series against SA being reduced and T20 growing. Hopefully the summer has some great tests, time will tell... and when are they releasing the schedule, honestly...

  • Something_Witty on May 19, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    Please... T20 is about as meaningful as playing tiddlywinks.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Something_Witty on May 19, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    Please... T20 is about as meaningful as playing tiddlywinks.

  • on May 19, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    I miss watching a good test series with good, competitive teams. I will admit to following the first IPL. The Second I watched a few games, the third I hardly watched and the fourth was not even shown on TV and I have hardly followed, nor cared. I want to sit back and watch two great test teams battle for 5 days, I love it haha :). I'm 17 btw, just for those saying my generation loves T20 only. Disappointed at the test series against SA being reduced and T20 growing. Hopefully the summer has some great tests, time will tell... and when are they releasing the schedule, honestly...

  • andrew.henshaw on May 19, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    I'm sorry to say, but this is going to be an EPIC failure. What was wrong with State vs State? The only competition (in recent history in any sport) that has been created out of thin air was the IPL, which had indian stars, international superstars, truckloads of money, a HUGE fanbase and no meaningful clashing international fixtures. Contrast this to Australia, with little international drawcards and headline australian players. Furthermore, any attempt to see these markets as similiar at all is extremely naive, if not downright stupid. A far better alternative would be to create an AUS/NZ competition (6 AUS states, 2-4 NZ teams). A PNG team could also eventually be added. Either way, I foresee a return to State v State by 2012-13.

  • Blokker on May 19, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Collingwood and Essendon, West Tigers, South Sydney, they've all got something all right. It's called tradition. Good luck in creating that, you'll need it.

  • Lees_Legends on May 19, 2011, 10:43 GMT

    Id never heard anything about this McKenna guy until now and already I don't like him

  • Biggus on May 19, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    I couldn't agree with him less. Wishful thinking and marketing spin, the lot of it, not surprising considering his role as "project owner of the Big Bash League". He's hardly an unbiased observer is he? The last thing in the world he's going to say is what we're all thinking, that it's a dodgy concept for the Australian market. There's something surreal about these marketing 'gurus', always waffling on about how truly wonderful the emperor's new clothes are when all the rest of us can see is a naked man. I couldn't care less about the 'Western watermelons' or the 'Sydney supercalifragicexpialidocious'. Save us from a world of 'Milo maiden overs' and 'Optus offcutters'. Burn it with fire and wake me up when it's over please.

  • Winsome on May 19, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    I'd rather call the WA team... the WA team. McKenna is CA's marketing guru and you can't help but feel he's going about this the wrong way. David Warner is one of the uglist shot-makers going and has a limited range of shots on top of that. Why try and make a player like that any bigger a star than he already is?

  • PeteB on May 19, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    With the arrival of this new Big Bash I will never get to see my side, NSW, play T20 cricket again. That is a sad state of affairs for a team with such long history in cricket. No amount of marketing will get me to follow these new teams. Least of all an inferior format.

  • on May 19, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    If you want to pay the dead cricketers pay but please do not kill cricket ipl is an eyesore I am sure that you will not publish it.

  • on May 19, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    It's a real shame how badly this is going to fail. Cricket Australia have out done themselves this time with another mass screw up.