Twenty20 Big Bash 2009-10 January 2, 2010

Ponting casts doubt over Big Bash expansion

Ricky Ponting has cast doubt over Cricket Australia's dreams of an expanded Twenty20 domestic tournament that includes the country's A-list players. James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, has raised the prospect of creating a window for the Big Bash, which currently clashes with the Boxing Day and New Year's Tests as well as the start of the one-day international series.

Ponting said while the Australians would like to appear in the competition, it would be "exceptionally hard" to attract the game's major players given the packed playing schedule. "With the Big Bash being at the time of year it is you're not going to get a clear window for all the international sides," Ponting said. "The IPL can't get that with the sort of money that they're throwing around, so I can't see how it will happen, but you've got to keep trying."

The Twenty20 event includes overseas players such as Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi, and the popularity of the format is threatening to downgrade the Sheffield Shield, which has been under pressure on a couple of fronts. In Australia there is talk of reducing the home-and-away programme to fit in more Twenty20 matches while Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, briefly floated the idea that any players who prefered first-class games to the limited-overs tournament will have their contracts cancelled.

Ponting, who is a staunch traditionalist by contemporary standards, does not want the Shield to lose out in the push for more quick-fix engagements. "I'd hate to see the day where we start playing more Twenty20 cricket at the expense of Sheffield Shield cricket," he said.

"One thing I think we've had over other nations for the last 15 years is the great strength of our domestic cricket. If you start taking those Sheffield Shield games away then before you know it ... you just don't want to tinker with things that are working so well."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo