Australia news December 27, 2015

BBL on Christmas Day a possibility

Christmas night could feature BBL cricket in future years © Getty Images

A Christmas night BBL fixture could be on the cards in coming years after Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland indicated CA may be open to the idea. This summer, as in most years, the BBL schedule includes matches up until December 23 with a resumption on Boxing Day, but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have been left vacant.

However, last week the head of the Big Bash League, Anthony Everard, said there was no reason Christmas night matches could not at least be considered, and Sydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins said he was open to discussions about his team playing at Christmas. Speaking on ABC Grandstand on Sunday morning, Sutherland said he was also open to the concept.

"It's an interesting one. I did hear some of the commentary around it just in the last few days and I've got to say, it hadn't actually occurred to me before," Sutherland said. "But sitting back on Christmas night, having had the great night's entertainment we'd had in the previous week or so, it's something that I guess will be on the drawing board."

The BBL has rated exceptionally well on television but Everard said last week that ratings alone would not be sufficient reason to schedule a game on Christmas night. He said there had been some "very preliminary thoughts" on possible alignment with a children's charity to make such a Christmas match more meaningful than being just another BBL match.

"I think what the BBL does is give you an opportunity to innovate ... I think it's a case of `Never say never'," Everard told AAP last week. "If we were to contemplate it I think we'd want to be pretty clear on what the objective was and that's not as a novelty or just playing another game because there's no other content on that day."

In recent decades elite sport has generally not been played on Christmas Day in Australia, but in the USA it is common. Occasional Christmas matches are played in the NFL but it is more customary in basketball; this year five NBA matches were played on Christmas Day.

In fact, cricket in Australia on Christmas Day would be nothing new. Test cricket has been scheduled on December 25 in Australia in past years. In 1967, Australia and India played a Test at Adelaide Oval that started on December 23, had a rest day on Sunday December 24, and resumed on Monday December 25. Similarly, Australia and West Indies played a Test in Adelaide in 1951 that finished on Christmas Day.

Adelaide Oval in particular has had a tradition of Christmas Day cricket. Starting in the 1920s, South Australia hosted Queensland in a semi-regular tradition, a Sheffield Shield match that featured play on Christmas Day. The last such match occurred in 1969.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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