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Australian players' Big Bash League headache

Daniel Brettig

June 15, 2011

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson struck seven fours in his innings of 38, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 4th day, January 6, 2011
Australian Test vice-captain Shane Watson is a sought-after commodity for the BBL © Getty Images

Australian cricket's playing and marketing imperatives are again colliding, this time over the matter of Test players taking part in the early rounds of the expanded Big Bash League.

As part of the push to sell the new league and its eight manufactured teams to the public, Cricket Australia wants all of its centrally-contracted players to take part in the first round of the competition, tentatively scheduled for December 16 to 20.

This would allow maximum exposure for the new competition, and also mean the game's most reliable current assets, namely the likes of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting, could be used liberally in advertising and publicity for the BBL.

However an agreement is yet to be reached between CA management, marketing and coaching staff over the issue of how to use the time between the end of the New Zealand Test series on December 13 in Hobart and the start of the India series on December 26 with the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

"It's still being resolved. We're obviously keen for them to be available to play if the schedule and their physical shape allows it," a CA spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "They're the biggest names and the most popular cricketers in the country so we'd obviously like them to be a part of as much as possible."

Australia's Test and limited-overs players have always missed parts or all of the domestic Twenty20 competition because it has clashed with the concluding weeks of the Test summer and the bulk of the ODI programme.

But the change to city-based teams and the paucity of genuine international talent available for the first edition of the tournament due to scheduling conflicts has intensified the demand for Australian internationals among franchises.

Given that Australia will have just completed their third Test series in as many months, including the tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa that precedes the New Zealand series, recovery time for captain Clarke, his deputy Watson and the fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, among others, will be at a premium.

Another issue will be maximising the team's preparation for the task of facing up to India, currently the world's No.1 ranked Test team, in what has arguably become Australia's biggest international rivalry outside of the Ashes. Where once the Australians could afford to take the odd preparatory shortcut due to an undisputed ranking at the top, now they have no choice but to plan diligently or face the consequences.

"The coaches are just making sure they've got enough time after the New Zealand series and before the India series starting on Boxing Day," the spokesman said. "We need to make sure their workload is managed. Even if it's agreed that players are available for certain matches, an individual assessment for each player will have to be made at the time regarding injuries, workload and individual programmes.

"These guys are going to be sought after by the BBL teams regardless of how many matches they can play, because they will help to sell the teams to the public."

Last summer the financial and cricketing interests of CA were muddled on more than one occasion. Michael Hussey and Doug Bollinger were handicapped when they were forced to stay behind at the T20 Champions League in South Africa with their IPL team Chennai Super Kings rather than preparing for the Test series in India.

Upon the team's return home, a pre-determined marketing plan to announce the Ashes squad at a public event in Sydney's Circular Quay - 10 days before the first Test - saw the selectors name an indecisive 17-man squad, causing what Simon Katich revealed to be a rumble of instability through the team before the first Test.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Jim1207 on (June 17, 2011, 5:08 GMT)

In last two trips of Australia to India, the results of six matches are: 4 wins for India and two draws. These matches are not dull at all. But I agree from Aussie point of view, they would like to see pacy and bouncy wickets in a game where as Indians might like turning pitches in a game, the reason why sub-continent teams were never good tourists in the past and even sometimes now. It's all how we are used to.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2011, 1:40 GMT)

As an Aussie, I prefer playing India ovwer here, because they have such great players. But when we're on tour, South Africa produces great games while India has such dreary, dull wickets...

Posted by Skylight28 on (June 16, 2011, 7:15 GMT)

Is it really that bad an ask? Think about it this way: There are 8 teams, and between Dec 16-20, these players will probably only be involved in 1 or 2 games each. For a test player, does fielding for 20 overs + batting for a few overs in 20/20 fashion really take them away from being prepared for a test match? Wouldn't they be spending a couple of hours in the nets daily anyway? Of course nets is different from a competitive 20/20, but these are professionals we are talking of here and I'd hope that they can handle this minor temporary gear shift. Wouldn't they bat the same 20/20 way if they were set a target of 100+ in the last 20 overs of the Dec 13 test? So ... is it really that big a deal if they play 1 or 2 20/20 games?

Posted by s.sreekant on (June 16, 2011, 5:43 GMT)

@Sriraj G.S. other thing is that when there is small piece of sledging the indian media climbs and starting tagging the aus as "dirty aussies" diz n that shown true colors and they tag then such things. other thing is that the series between aus-sa there is lot of hostile fast bowling which is great to watch.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (June 16, 2011, 5:09 GMT)

T20 greed is spreading unabatedly through the Aussie Cricket setup and it will consume not only the Australian domestic cricket structure but in the near future will decimate the quality of their international Test team. How the proud and mighty have fallen! Well done IPL. It has claimed its most crucial victim.

Posted by Meety on (June 16, 2011, 5:03 GMT)

@Kane Weston - I know where you're coming from, but at the end of the day you & I have to accept that T20 is not really about interesting the people who comment on this site. Its about people who think a night watchmen is a security guard and think bowling a maiden over is about getting lucky on a Friday night! My son hates cricket but he enjoyed going to a T20 with me a year or so ago, he won't be seen dead anywhere near a game that goes for more then about 3hrs. Sad but true!

Posted by Meety on (June 16, 2011, 4:57 GMT)

@Sriraj GS - agree with you (although I wouldn't label the Indian pitches dust bowls). I do believe that faster bouncy pitches are more conducive to more dynamic cricket. Not saying that slow low turners can't have good cricket - just it misses parts of what makes cricket great. You're dead right about the banter & sledging between say Oz & the Saffas. Don't forget the kiwis too, (they seem to fly under the radar but some of those boys NEVER shut up!) -- -- -- @fazald - I am hoping that they mean centrally contracted cricketers not required to play in the Boxing Day Test! I am prepared to give the benefit of the very SLIM doubt here! -- -- -- @HatsforBats - trouble is some pimply faced teenager nobody has ever heard of (other then family members), doesn't necessarily pull the crowds or MORE importantly - sponsors AND investors! I think the Big Bash already unearthed a few gems & there is no reason why the BBL can't continue that!

Posted by   on (June 16, 2011, 3:26 GMT)

@Gokul Krishnan: You precisely summed up the reason why we don't enjoy Aus-Ind matches as much as Aus-SA series. You get real intense and quality cricket during the Ashes and against SA. But in series against India, half of them are played in dust-bowl pitches just to create stats like you showed (Mumbai 2005?). You get to see banter and sledging as well in the Ashes all ending in good spirit finally. But when Ind and Aus play, someone does not know how to take sledging as it is and ends up giving an abuse instead. Just isn't fun enough.

Posted by __PK on (June 16, 2011, 3:19 GMT)

Who would go to a T20 game to watch Michael Clarke play? And an interesting claim from Meety that Ind/Pak games have less scores to settle.

Posted by Jim1207 on (June 16, 2011, 2:36 GMT)

Meety, I don't think Australians handled Harbhajan's sledging well either. When Katich last week told the same word last week in press - which Harbhajan was "allegedly" claimed to have talked - there was no problem with your media. I don't understand when you say that Indians do not handle sledging well, does that mean Harbhajan and Indians should keep their mouth shut when Aussies sledge and thus "handle their sledging well"? I agree your other points but this point really makes me feel bad.

Posted by Stevo_ on (June 16, 2011, 1:26 GMT)

BBL is a joke , simple as that. (as is IPL)

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 16, 2011, 0:17 GMT)

I would've thought CA would be better off promoting this tournament by introducing up & coming talents and established shield players that crowds would know, rather than promoting our top test players whom are likely not to play the in the league. @Gokul Krishnan: I have to agree with mrwaka, I look forward to the Aus-SA home & away test series more than Ind-Aus series. It has nothing to do with how many series the respective teams have won and more to do with the quality of the pitches and fast bowling. Frankly and unfortunately, I tend to find tests in India quite boring; 3 days of offspin on flat tracks just doesn't excite (obviously there are exceptions).

Posted by fazald on (June 16, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

This clearly indicates beyond any doubt that Cricket Australia is not interested in test cricket anymore & slowly but surely trying to destroy our reputation as a leading test cricket nation while promoting T20 cricket in this country to make a fast buck. No wonder our standards in test cricket has been deteriorating very quickly while our selectors deliberately keep selecting sub standard players into the side. The dropping of Katich & the inclusion of players who have repeatedly failed in recent times into the list of contracted players is a very good example.The proposal to hold the "BIg Bash League" T20 tournament just before a tough test series speaks volumes about the incompetency of these cricket administrators who pretend to be the saviours of aussie cricket. At the end of the day it is not how much money that we earn via the "Big Bash" that's going to count but our reputation as a powerful test cricket nation. The current administrators of CA should be sacked immediately.

Posted by Meety on (June 16, 2011, 0:03 GMT)

@Gokal Krishnan - thanks for providing those stats - even though they are completely missing the point that Mr Waka was making. Oz & Sth Africa share a similar attitude to sport, something that rightly or wrongly the Indians DO NOT share. Oz, Sth Africa, NZ & Eng, (probably Ireland too), all have Rugby Union sporting links & so therefor a more aggressive approach to sport. All due respect to India, they don't have it & it is harder for Ozzys to fire up & get stuck into Indians as they don't handle sledging and crowd heckling well. I am more passionate about games vs Rugby playing nations then against other nations. That being said as a cricket lover I enjoy matches involving India/Pak & SL. There's less scores to settle in those games!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 23:45 GMT)

Here we go again money winning over wanting to win a test series, no player likely to play in test matches should be wasting there time with 20/20 cricket. I'd love to know how putting players at risk for nothing but patch up cricket helps the Australian Cricket team your asking them to play "TEST" cricket one day then just come in and smash it around the next then go back to "TEST" mode a couple of days later, someone really needs to step in for the health of Australian Cricket as they are only thinking in terms of dollars. Go on Wato get in there get injured and see how that helps the Aussie side but at least our new BIG BASH will be better for it. 20/20 is already a dying game!! why? well thats easy, people are seeing it's not as great as they thought it would be with most batsman not making large scores often enough for fans to enjoy, bowlers getting smashed. THE GAME IS HIT OR MISS, Cricket managment still think they have a hit but in fact most fans don't care if they miss it.

Posted by Cricket_is_soul on (June 15, 2011, 17:23 GMT)

So what Australian Cricket mean to say? Is that anyway with good players or average players , they're always going to loose the series against India. I feel exactly that.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 16:30 GMT)

@MrWaka, Since 2000 ... Australia and India have clashed in 6 test series Australia have won 2 (2004 in India,2007-08 in Australia) and India 3(2001,2008 and 2010)..there was the drawn series in 2004 remembered as Steve Waugh's last series. I remember SouthAfrica having won just one test series against the Oz during the same period. Wait..only once since their re-induction..

Posted by palla.avinash on (June 15, 2011, 16:08 GMT)

good time for india and i feel these things of ca will make india happy more than any body.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 16:01 GMT)

India Vs Aus Boxing day Test is when REAL BIG BASH Begins...

Posted by fazald on (June 15, 2011, 14:20 GMT)

How can Cricket Australia be so dumb as to organise a "Big Bash League" T20 tournament & get our top cricketers to take part in it just before a tough & important four test series against India & soon after a two test series against the Kiwis?. I am sure India would only be too pleased to hear this & I reckon they are not going to risk their top players to participate in it. Haven't the ACB learnt a lesson from the ashes debacle where our cricketers were already physically drained even before the series started whereas the Englishmen were very fresh & relaxed.? The team had just returned after a hectic test & ODI series against Pakistan, India & a ODI series against England followed by a ODI series against Sri Lanka at home before the series commenced & some of the players were still nursing injuries. Once again the team would have just returned after a gruelling series in Sri Lanka & South Africa before we take on New Zealand & India at home. CA please wake up.

Posted by s.sreekant on (June 15, 2011, 13:34 GMT)

ya go ahead and play get yourself injured and miss the crucial india series.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

India are going to World No.1 for a long, long time because by the time the present greats in the Indian team retire from Test cricket, the standard of domestic first class cricket competitions of all major nations would have been diluted by the predominance of cash rich T20s, that they would stop producing players capable of playing the long form of the game. What is happening in Australia today is just the beginning of the end.

Posted by PYC1959 on (June 15, 2011, 12:53 GMT)

Should have thought about all of this before........... serves you guys right for chasing the big dollars. I am getting sick and tired of watching the slow death of Australian Cricket. I want to watch cricket, not glorified baseball.

Posted by Antomann on (June 15, 2011, 12:37 GMT)

God knows the BBL needs some way to sell itself. 'Eight manufactured teams' says it all. Whose brilliant idea was this again? What a farce.

Posted by inefekt on (June 15, 2011, 11:44 GMT)

@ jonesy2, how is this good practice for test matches? It's akin to a golfer practising for a major by only hitting his driver on the range for half an hour then packing his bags and heading home. CA are putting T20 cricket above everything else, all for the sake of making a few dollars. It's no wonder they are going for a 'youth policy', these young blokes are perfect for T20 cricket. Don't worry about tests CA, we'll just languish in the wilderness while you make your precious money in hit and giggle cricket.

Posted by Ramesh-IT on (June 15, 2011, 11:26 GMT)

What are the Aussies waiting for? Now shout out the IPL has ruined cricket in every country.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 11:19 GMT)

Why exactly can't they play? We're talking about bowling 4 overs or batting for max 40 deliveries. Its not that hard.

Posted by mrwaka on (June 15, 2011, 11:07 GMT)

"'in what has arguably become Australia's biggest international rivalry outside of the Ashes" .... Really? I would have thought it would be South-Africa before India. (No offence to India)

Posted by skyeshwin on (June 15, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

So the Big Bash league will be taking place at the same time as Ind-Aus series??? This is gross....Both can't collide....

Posted by Prats6 on (June 15, 2011, 10:25 GMT)

I hope CA has the sense that BCCI does not. Let the players focus on Tests V India.

Posted by Hoggy_1989 on (June 15, 2011, 10:00 GMT)

I couldn't agree more with the sentiments here. Is there anything more that this administration can do to say 'We don't care about cricket anymore...only the money coming in?' We all should boycott the BBL in protest of these ridiculous decisions.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (June 15, 2011, 9:31 GMT)

It's fascinating to watch the collective suicide of Australian cricket as a force in Tests. If I recall rightly, India have never won a series in Australia. If this plan goes ahead, that happy record may go out of the window, not that India will be complaining: defeat in Australia would put ttheir #1 ranking at risk for the first time.

Posted by Winsome on (June 15, 2011, 9:27 GMT)

CA are certainly playing true to form. Nothing appears to have been learnt from last summer. They won't be happy till the Aussies are about 8th on the ICC rankings for test cricket and that way they can say there is no point in us spending any more time and money on it.

Posted by popcorn on (June 15, 2011, 8:33 GMT)

This is stupid. Take Dougie Bolloinger alone. He loves T20. He does not coommitment for Test Cricket.Or pay Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds to promote the Big Bash Sloggers Park League.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

Every Cricket board is looking to earn more money and T20 cricket is biggest source to attract the people and i don't think CA is doing anything wrong. This is modern time and that's how are going to be. Players have to adjust accordingly. The demand players getting more n more but they are also getting benefited from this and its good for there future.

Posted by jonesy2 on (June 15, 2011, 8:01 GMT)

everyone calm down, while on the surface this doesnt sound right, if you think about it twenty20 can be used as a sort of training run before test matches and it is definetly not an excuse or a reason for a poor performance in test cricket, if anything it helps them practice in the middle before the test. they get paid to do this but if the australian coaches dont want their stars playing twenty20 before a test then they shouldnt.

Posted by indianzen on (June 15, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

I believe all the Australians should feel proud to have a man like Chappel, who is now destroying Australian cricket... the team should have the right mix of young and experienced to face a team like India or England... however the team should not have people like Ponting and Johnson who have serious attitude problems. Why dont people like Ferguson, Marsh, Dougly get the chance...

Posted by andrew.henshaw on (June 15, 2011, 7:22 GMT)

Another example of Cricket Australia's willingness to sell its sole. Rather than give the players a couple of days rest before a huge test series against India, why not get them to player a couple of rounds of pointless T20? And this after 3 consecutive series against SL/SA/NZ. Somethings got to give and it should not be test cricket.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

clarke and mitch will decline. give them some rest for crying out loud.m if anything they should play a first class game instead of a mickey mouse, no one cares about 20/20 matches

Posted by   on (June 15, 2011, 6:56 GMT)

Cricket Australia should get rid of all the ODIs which are scheduled in the 3 weeks after the New Years test and schedule the BBL from Jan 10-31. Integrity of test cricket maintained, dying and uninterseting ODI format curtailed and internationals available for BBL.

Posted by bobagorof on (June 15, 2011, 6:46 GMT)

I understand that CA needs some high-profile players to attract interest in the BBL (because apparently the competition itself is not enough to attract interest). But CA needs to decide where its priorities lay - does it want its Test players as prepared as possible to face World Number 1 India in the Test series, or does it want the whole team affected by Twenty20 the way Hussey and Bollinger were last year?

Posted by F18SuperHornet on (June 15, 2011, 6:45 GMT)

It will be suicide to sandwich T20 games between two crucial test series. Especially to meet India in the BG trophy series, the aussies need to be in good test match form. Playing big bash and then heading on to meet India in a test match would be a no brainer.

Posted by David_Boon on (June 15, 2011, 6:37 GMT)

Great. We can have our Test squad playing some crappy T20s 6 days out from a Test match. If that doesn't clarify that CA are only interested in how much money they make and not the team's performance, I don't know what will.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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