Australia news September 29, 2013

Bailey wants shorter Big Bash League, restored Ryobi


Australia's stand-in ODI leader and Twenty20 captain George Bailey has attacked the decision to schedule the domestic limited-overs competition as a three-week early season tournament in Sydney, declaring the comparatively luxurious Big Bash League schedule should have been tightened rather than cutting further into the 50-over format.

In the wake of the Tigers' opening day hiding by New South Wales on a substandard pitch at Bankstown Oval, Bailey listed numerous complaints about the tournament his team had just embarked upon. These included the difficulties of the five travelling states playing the entire event in Sydney, the loss of opportunities to blend in younger players over the season, and the evolving reduction in domestic one-day games, now down to six per team, from 10 two seasons ago.

As an alternative, Bailey proposed the tightening of the BBL, saying the players would be perfectly happy to play more double-headers and back-to-back T20 matches, rather than the distended competition schedule, that will be from December 20 until February 7. He also raised concern about the six Sheffield Shield matches in as many weeks that will follow the end of the limited-overs tournament, and said the players and their association needed to be better consulted on major changes like the ones his team was now confronting.

"I like the balance of last year and the spread of one-day and Shield cricket," Bailey said. "On the back of this being over in three weeks I think it's going to be really challenging to see six Shield games in six weeks for a number of states, that's going to put a lot of pressure on fast bowling depth to be hitting the ground running come the start of the Ashes. So that's going to be a Shield challenge on the back of that.

"Ideally a quick fix would be to shorten the Big Bash - it seems to be getting longer and longer, we're playing seven games in what amounts to about 12 weeks. No bones about it, that's really important that the commercial side of it and the amount of money that the TV companies are putting into it, they should have some say in getting the format and the scheduling they want. But I guess there has to be a balance. Certainly in T20 the players would be happy to play a more condensed tournament, looking at some double-headers and back-to-back games."

Bailey had himself been used as an example why the schedule needed to be changed, when his Sheffield Shield scoring fell away dramatically last summer while he shuffled constantly between formats, losing his chance to be part of the Ashes squad in the process. But he questioned the logic of departing from a Shield and limited-overs schedule that had been successful for a long time in order to devote as much time as possible to T20.

"This is a tournament style set-up, but it's not how it's been done in the past when we were playing a lot better cricket," Bailey said. "So if it's a quick fix to try to get us playing better cricket I'm not sure. Your one-day side is going to be away for two-thirds of the competition anyway. I think it's a difficult thing to get right, scheduling, but from a players and players association perspective we'd like to be consulted more.

"For guys who might be just on the fringe of that Australian side come January they'd be loving the opportunity to play some one-day cricket for their state at the end of the Big Bash, to get two or three more games in, and much the same when we're playing Tests it would be nice for the guys on the fringe of the Test side to find a way to be playing four-day cricket to push their way in.

"I think the players and the players association are really keen to have more of a say on these types of issues, on scheduling. I'm not saying it's an easy fix, it's really difficult to fit everything in and get it the way you want, but I think it's really important the players are consulted as much as possible around the states, to try and get a balance for what's best."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nathan on September 30, 2013, 22:44 GMT

    @ Hillbumper

    I think what you're highlighting is the fundamental difference between Australian and English cricketers for generations. The Aussies are brash competitors where the English as you put it are more phlegmatic. I don't have a problem with that and I enjoy the banter.

    Remember McGrath claiming that the Aussies were going to white wash the 2005 ashes and they got done 2-1? Bring on the banter!!

    Of course I want to see the Aussies win. They are improving and that we did perform much better at home last summer against SL and SA. I'm sure it will be a great contest. Whether history is re-written, I don't care.

    Of course you realise that Watson was the second highest run scorer in the last ashes. So to your point if our top 6 are all as good as Watson and score > 420 runs in the series then we'll probably win

  • stuart on September 30, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    @ shut the gate. Yeah thanks for that I had forgotten you lot won the Ashes 5-0.You are right about Benaud and Waugh having slow starts.My point is more the fact that Australia seem determined to re write history this year.You have not won a test this year yet all we here is how great a captain Clarke is and how Aus play this attacking game.That's great but would you not prefer to win for a change? England might be phlegmatic in their approach but I would consider this time to be the bit in between the next generation comes through. But I agree Aus talk a great game and with a bit more experience they could be as good as Shane Watson

  • James on September 30, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Well thank you George Bailey.

  • GeoffreysMother on September 30, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    Go for a Big Bash Friday, Ryobi Sunday and a midweek Shield. Market the Shield as watching the men who will win back the Ashes. Abandon franchises and expand the competitions by having two additional teams Melbourne and Victoria State and Sydney and NSW State - thus bringing cricket to smaller venues in the states with major populations. The state versus city matches should have plenty of spice.

    The only thing you miss out on are the likes of Gayle and Pollard playing for their third or fourth world team. Replace this spectacle by having former greats as team sponsors and if their team loses being put in the stocks and pelted with meat pies. it would test Warney's new diet to see if he ducked them or tried to catch them in his mouth!

  • David on September 30, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Who appoints James Sutherland and how do we (the cricket lovers in Australia) get rid of him?

  • C on September 30, 2013, 2:53 GMT

    I agree with Bailey wholeheartedly, even though he had to say at the end 'it isn't an easy fix'. It is an easy fix. The easy fix is to stop building the schedule while imagining all the $$$.

    Perhaps if CA put more money into advertising the Shield and Ryobi Cup they'd get more profit from them. I follow both competitions on Cricinfo, but if they secured a free-to-air television deal like they did with the BBL (even on one of the major channel's secondary channels, SBS would be great) then I believe they'd find the revenue starting to flow through those avenues. It may only be a trickle at first, but you gotta put in to get out. Once the public is able to get attached to the players (most cricket fans don't know anyone outside of the national team) then they'll start going to the matches.

    Look at the difference between cricket and the football codes in Australia at the moment. If they can all be free-to-air prime-time viewing money-making machines, why not the state-level cricket?

  • Scott on September 30, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    There is something inherently wrong with the state of Australian cricket, when a format of the game designed to be finished in a shortest amount of time possible takes up 47 days of the season.

    I understand the lucrative nature of the T20 format, but the result of CA increasing their bank balance is a decline in batsmen being able to build an innings in the longer formats, because the batsmen by and large will have the attention span of a goldfish. And with the increase in T20, a game designed for batsmen, how many youngsters would want to become bowlers, playing on pitches that may as well be on matting?

    Cull the T20 back, with more double headers and back to back games as George Bailey and others have sugguested, and move it closer to the start of the season, or have it towards the end of the season, so the mercenaries in world cricket can get in some practise before they head off to the IPL, but don't sacrifice the development of younger players for the sake of lining the pockets.

  • Bludging on September 30, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    Australia needs to create a new breakaway body to run 4 day state cricket and the test match teams.

    It could be like the rugby/rugby league split of 1908. Cricket Australia could go chasing the money and the new cricket board created would run cricket with the specific aim of preserving the integrity and traditions of the game of 2 innings and unlimited overs.

    Would be interesting to see if players would want to only play the short form of the game. Here is the choice, you can go and play for money in India or play in Ashes. How long will the 20 over games be popular before they lose interest? The 50 over game went through the same popularity peak in the 1980s. Now look at it.

  • jim on September 30, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    Get rid of the BBL all together. It is a waste of time and talent that his ruining players of potential.