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July 25, 2011
Matthew Hayden's plans to become a part-owner of the Brisbane Heat Twenty20 franchise are far from guaranteed, despite the air of inevitability that hung over the announcement of his signature to play for the team in next summer's expanded Big Bash League.
So far only the Melbourne Renegades and the Sydney Thunder have got approval to seek minority private ownership of up to 49%, a process that is currently being overseen by the financial services company Credit Suisse.
Other teams are presently allowed to negotiate unofficially with potential investors, but that moratorium will end once the Sydney and Melbourne deals are settled.
In addition to playing, Hayden wants to align his company The Hayden Way with the Heat as part of what he breathlessly called "a leisure-tainment and entertainment package that has never yet been seen on our shores in cricket".
However Cricket Australia will have to be satisfied, when the time for private investment in the Heat is allowed, that Hayden's company will provide a worthwhile return.
"We don't know what the timing is going to be, and it is subject to Cricket Australia approval," a CA spokesman said. "At this stage The Hayden Way is keen, Brisbane is keen, and Matthew Hayden will be first in the queue to be a private investor in the Heat."
Speaking in Brisbane, Hayden made the case for using T20 to secure cricket's future in Australia by appealing to a wider audience. He also said he had lost interest in international cricket against nations other than England and India, a stark statement from a CA board member.
"There's a lot of things cricket can't control, the Future Tours Program being one of those, however we can control our domestic content," Hayden said. "From a commercial point of view most definitely I see this being an enormous success, but it's key is if it gets mums, dads, families coming to the cricket, enjoying a three-hour proposition, with not the trinkets and the charms but a true value proposition.
"I love cricket and have been inspired by cricket my whole life. I love the baggy green, I love what it stands for. However short of the Ashes, and potentially the Indian summer, I've said for a long time that I'm largely un-invested in that particular competition. So for me having now first-hand witnessed what that [T20] means as an entertainment proposition, firstly in the IPL and now within the franchise, I know this is going to re-engage our fan base.
"If kids, mums and dads and families rock up, then that is an investment they make which adds to them participating in our great game, then we'll have done everything, both commercially and from a participation point of view.
"I think most definitely people are losing interest within the tournaments. I'll give you a prime example of that, the ICC champions trophy. Australia won that tournament, the first time that trophy's ever been in the cabinet, and yet do we know about it, we had some idea but it wasn't the same impact as what it could make. The World Cup is incredibly important within the game, but there are challenges in the landscape, it is a very cluttered landscape."
Australia's T20 competition had previously been state-based, something Hayden said was part of the pathway towards the national team and not something he was interested in participating in as a player or investor. But, in a somewhat convoluted argument, he also reckoned that his return to the domestic scene would help to educate young players with his many years of experience.
"The reason I've never been interested in this tournament until now is I've always seen it as a pathways program," Hayden said. "It's been sat within the stakeholders of the game being the states, and every spot I took up was an opportunity for a youngster to come in and take up that same spot, and I'd been a beneficiary of those wonderful pathway programs that have existed within our country.
"Now however this is a different proposition, this is an entertainment package, and it is going to, whether we like it or not, and it already has, competed with all the other franchise sports, and there is going to be some rationalisation over the next two years. I'm looking forward to being part of seeing what best fits for cricket.
"When you lose someone like a [Adam] Gilchrist or a [Shane] Warne or a [Justin] Langer or the Waughs, all these players, you lose 20, 30, 40 years of cricket experience. This is why I love the strategic direction of having guys like Darren Lehmann investing back into our great game, because there you've got a passionate cricket love who has got an incredible skill set as a player but can also pass information down to our youngsters, which is key to developing any culture.
"John Buchanan said when he was coach of Australia and Queensland that his ideal scenario was to become redundant in that role, and he did that by lifting up the younger players into the more iconic positions. I think I can add that value to the dressing room as well."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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