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BBL recruiting amnesty called for

Daniel Brettig

May 26, 2014

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Brad Haddin arrives for the launch of the Big Bash League, Sydney, July 27, 2011
Brad Haddin emerges from a pink stretch Hummer at the launch party for the Big Bash League at Sydney's Carriageworks in July 2011, epitomising the showbiz feel of the tournament's beginning © Getty Images
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An amnesty is required to air all the recruiting "dirty laundry" accumulated over the first three seasons of the Twenty20 Big Bash League as Cricket Australia's integrity unit seeks to clean up the competition's fast and loose reputation for player dealings.

Paul Marsh, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, has called for a period of truth-telling after South Australia sacked Jamie Cox as CA conducted an investigation into his recruiting activities.

Cox's transgressions were believed to be the conducting of player negotiations and the reaching of agreements with players outside the BBL's stipulated contracting period, the sort of offences that had gone routinely unpunished in the first three years of the BBL before the integrity unit was officially charged with keeping a tighter rein on things in December 2013. Showbiz must now be balanced by studiousness.

Marsh, who was saddened by Cox's dismissal having worked alongside him on the ACA executive in the past, told ESPNcricinfo that changing the culture of BBL recruiting and regulations required a more nuanced approach, allowing for a period of honest reflection before any punitive measures were taken.

"There's a culture that's built up in the BBL that it's ok to play outside these contracting rules," Marsh said. "Teams have been doing it since the first year and nothing's been done about it, and everyone knows it. You only have to look at day one of the contracting period, half the contracts get announced. How did that happen if they haven't already been in discussions and reached at least a verbal agreement before the day of the contracting period starting?

"Everyone knows it's been going on. So what needs to happen I believe is an amnesty period so we come out and say 'everyone bring forward your dirty laundry and say what happened in the first three years'. We put it all on the table and start with a clean slate. Anything that's not disclosed then teams are liable to be sanctioned moving forward, but from this point the culture needs to shift to where everyone does play by the rules."

While understanding of the integrity unit's desire to ensure that administrators followed the rules as diligently as the players on the field, Marsh said the "big stick" approach would create plenty of problems. "To be fair the resources of the integrity unit have only recently been beefed up so this is more a solution than a criticism," he said.

"It's really hard on the teams and the players if you come in here with a big stick as we head into year four and teams have been behaving a certain way and getting away with it, then all of a sudden the big stick comes in and there are severe sanctions. I'm not saying CA are coming in with the big stick as we don't know what their sanctions will be yet, but I do think we need to look at how we handle this change."

This year's major BBL trading period ended last week with little player movement taking place. Marsh also reckoned the competition would benefit by pushing this phase forward to begin a matter of days, not three months, after the BBL itself had concluded. Players and teams would thus be allowed to shore up their futures rapidly, while also dissuading recruiters from trying to gain an advantage by breaking early from the starting blocks.

"We should also bring the contracting period forward," Marsh said. "It's three months after the end of the BBL, the players need to know where they're playing next year, where they might be living next year. It's been de-linked from the state contracts so when they're signing contracts it is very difficult and it also means teams can gain a competitive advantage by getting in first. We should start the contracting period straight after the tournament finishes and get on with it."

Cox's sacking was the SACA board's decision, with the outcome of the CA investigation still to be determined.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Posted by Meety on (May 28, 2014, 5:53 GMT)

@Ozcricketwriter on (May 26, 2014, 9:05 GMT) - it is not about being competitive in the "global T20 market" - the primary reason for the format of the BBL is to generate extra revenue WITHIN Oz. This is achieved by crowd numbers & TV ratings domestically - selling the rights overseas is a welcome bonus. The other MAJOR consideration is that whilst ever we have a 20/20 W/Cup, Oz needs a format to select players from. I am happy for them to increase the number of overseas imports as it could lead to some sort of FC cricket being played in Oz whilst the BBL season is underway, because despite it all the BBL is by charter, secondary to the needs of the TEST team. "Viable" - the BBL is a low cost, low risk model versus the IPL which is High Cost & High Risk. If TV ratings drop a few %, it will wipe tens of millions of the value of a Franchise in the IPL - & send some insolvent. Actually much less likely in BBL. So which is really viable (IPL v BBL)?

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (May 27, 2014, 8:27 GMT)

@Manish Sharma - In case you didn't notice, BBL did try to contact Indian stars, like Kohli, Dhoni and Tendulkar - but were told by the BCCI that they were not allowed to play in an overseas domestic competition - hence why there are no Indians in the BBL.

Posted by android_user on (May 27, 2014, 6:20 GMT)

@wellrounded87 : Agree with you completely.Very well said Mr. Take the example of willey of Norths(england) . He is one of d best in d business n withdrew his name from IPL auction to represent or practice for his club.This step in a way ll give more chances to Indian talents.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (May 27, 2014, 5:14 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster and exactly who is saying that BBL is trying to compete with the IPL?

They're only trying to improve their own business model and why wouldn't they. I don't think anyone actually believes any of the T20 leagues will rival the IPL, but there's no reason why they shouldn't be trying to improve and make the champions league more interesting.

They need to do some form of cap on the champions league so all the best players aren't ditching their home T20 teams for the IPL counterparts. For example an Aussie who is contracted to Perth Scorchers and KKR should play for the scorchers in the CL if both teams qualify, however if Perth don't make it he is free to play for KKR.

Posted by android_user on (May 26, 2014, 19:57 GMT)

The more foreign players getting involved, the more interest, the bigger it gets

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (May 26, 2014, 18:45 GMT)

IPL will always be the mother of all T20 leagues. BBL can only dream about that. The best they can do is try to increase the number of overseas players in each teams but I doubt that will create the same atmosphere, passion and drama of the the IPL. Guys please remember that the IPL is played in INDIA - a billion people who are lovestruck with the game of cricket following their respective IPL clubs. Australia can never do that.

Posted by android_user on (May 26, 2014, 16:00 GMT)

@Ozcricketwriter & D-Coach : Agree with both of u till now.Overseas players nos. needs to be increased n time of play should b changed.They should contact players like yuvraj, ABD, Dhoni, Raina and advertising agencies has got a task in their hands as well

Posted by   on (May 26, 2014, 15:58 GMT)

As an Indian i always pick BBL as the best club T20 league.. Because of the atmosphere in the ground, and some electrifying performances by the players... I always watch every single match of the BBL in India... More than IPL, BBL producing a lot of nail-biting contest.. What could be the reason?? Because of quality players in the side. Be it young or international starrs.. They are producing quality cricket

Posted by   on (May 26, 2014, 13:59 GMT)

Definitely agreeing with all these comments. lt would be good to see the salary cap buffed out a bit to make it more competitive to the IPL (1mil vs 10mil) and privatized if needed, but this would mean that all Aussie players would be able to play... maybe have a month and a bit in Jan/ Feb with no internationals where the quality players can play? would certainly improve attendances, especially to those floating fans who go to watch bailey, warner, maxwell, finch etc...

Posted by   on (May 26, 2014, 11:48 GMT)

OzcricketWriter I agree 100%. I also think they need to make the tournament longer. Instead of 8 matches, make it 12, and then build up to 16 maybe like the Ipl ? But I think if each team has 12 games, that is more than enough.

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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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