Big Bash League 2013-14 July 22, 2013

Forget Tests, BBL is where it's at

Despite the disappointment at Lord's overnight, Cricket Australia had its eyes on the main game on Monday morning: a longer BBL in the upcoming home Ashes summer
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Four or five hours after Michael Clarke's men crumpled to their humiliating loss at Lord's, Cricket Australia sent out a press release. It contained good news, information that should warm the hearts of cricket lovers throughout the country, the fans who had stayed up over the past four nights, watching the national team's embarrassing attempts at competing with England.

"Cricket Australia's strategy for the BBL is working."

Phew.

"The league has been successful in attracting a new, diverse fan base in its first two years with its mix of big hits, great value and explosive action."

What a relief.

"More than 13% of people who attended the BBL last season were experiencing live cricket for the first time. Families also made up more than 50% of our crowds which is exactly the target audience that we want to attract to T20."

Stats! Great idea! Nobody can argue with figures!

Like, for example, the percentage of Australia's runs scored by last-wicket pairs in this Ashes series (31%). Or the number of years (28) since Australia last lost six consecutive Tests, a run of defeats they matched overnight. Or the number of Australian batsmen averaging over 40 in Tests this year, excluding those who have now retired (0).

Or the number of mentions in the CA press release of the BBL as "cricket" (1), compared to the number of times it is referred to as "entertainment" (3).

Or the number of days from the opening match of the upcoming BBL season until the final (58) compared with last summer's tournament (44). Yes, Cricket Australia said earlier this year they would tighten the BBL schedule up, but now they have decided that a two-month domestic T20 competition over the middle of summer is actually better for the game, fans, players and stakeholders.

Especially when the stakes are so significant. This summer, the BBL will be broadcast on free-to-air television for the first time, after Channel Ten forked out A$100 million for the rights over the next five years. That means that almost every day over the summer holidays, you can settle in for some cricket entertainment from the comfort of home.

If the return Ashes series in Australia from November to January becomes too depressing, you can change channels, watch Aaron Finch or Luke Pomersbach whack a hundred off 50 balls, and marvel at how much batting talent Australia possesses. Young batsmen Australia-wide will be keen to prove their credentials in the BBL, which occupies an exclusive window in the domestic calendar from December 20 until the end of the regular season matches on January 27.

At the start of February a squad will fly out for three Tests in South Africa, and what better way to audition for a role against the world's No. 1-ranked Test team than with six weeks of "big hits" and "explosive action" for Melbourne Renegades or Brisbane Heat? Or the Sydney Watchful-Leaves-Outside-Off-Stump? Sorry, Sixers.

Cricket Australia's press release on Monday morning was accompanied by a series of releases from the various BBL teams, confirming their fixtures or a list of players so far signed. It was good to see how many promising young batsmen will be honing their techniques in the BBL from mid-December until mid-February.

Kurtis Patterson, for example, has signed with Sydney Thunder. In November 2011, Patterson became the youngest batsman to score a century on debut in Australian first-class cricket when at 18 he scored 163 in a Sheffield Shield game for New South Wales. He has struggled in grade cricket since then but will learn some terrific habits during another BBL season, having been part of the Sixers squad last summer.

Let's hope others like Joe Burns, Jordan Silk, Alex Doolan, Peter Forrest and Nic Maddinson work on their batting during the eight weeks of the BBL. For two months, batsmen can put away all those dreary leaves and forward-defensive strokes that they've been using during the Sheffield Shield. How about a ramp shot instead? Joe Root showed its value to Test cricket once he reached 180 at Lord's.

In other player movement news, Shane Warne has retired, and Michael Hussey will join Sydney Thunder. His former team, Perth Scorchers, were "bitterly disappointed" to lose Hussey, a veteran of four BBL games for Scorchers. There's just no loyalty in cricket entertainment these days.

Clearly, Hussey was lured by the chance to fly in to ANZ Stadium in a specially painted Sydney Thunder helicopter, an event of appropriate dignity for one of Australia's finest cricketers of the past two decades. It was well conceived, perfectly timed, and a clear illustration that Cricket Australia's strategy for the BBL is working.

Yes, it's good to know that despite the disappointment at Lord's, Cricket Australia had its eyes on the main game on Monday morning.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CULTnishant on July 27, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    CA should find a way how to cop up between t20 and tests coz Test is Best it got respect honor pride.

  • Chris_P on July 25, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    @Nite Kat. Let me understand your point. Ashes cricket has stunted cricket in Australia? And this, despite the fact that tests involving England result in many sell-outs & near full stadiums in both countries? So you advocate more tests against countries that don't get the support so we can view these matches in near empty stadiums? Ashes series are outdated, and this after both countries report their best attendances are for these? Interesting...... And you claim to have been watching test cricket for how long?

  • Tinka13 on July 25, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    Cricket Australia, maybe we need another "Packer" to put the game back on level keel again. Maybe Palmer or Tinkler could start up a "SUPER TEST SERIES" to teach young aspiring Australia batsman how to play the proper game of cricket again? You would think that the Australian Cricket Authorities would know what they are doing, but no, they have NO IDEA!!!!

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 24, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    This was a good read-stitched me up really!

  • swarzi on July 24, 2013, 0:42 GMT

    Come on Mr Coverdale, you very well understand cricket politics! This announcement was made to stifle the bad news about that HUGE defeat that Australia suffered in the current Ashes series. It was done to divert the attention of the nation from such abysmal news - especially sports news related to Ahes cricket! However, based on your journalistic vigilance, it has BCKFIRED on CA!

  • Yuji9 on July 24, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    Well said @Dr.Vindaloo - CLR James may have pondered "What do tey know of cricket who only money know?" - Yes this certainly is the end. This is the age of the all-rounder - the half cricketer who can do it all but can do none of it as a specialist. When I was a kid my coach once clipped me over the ear for hitting the ball in the air. I bet if I was a kid today the coach would clip me for keeping it on the ground! Cricket Australia is a poorly named organisation. It truly is a corporate marketing unit full of executives and advertising gurus. These people truly hate the long form of the game and will do anything they can to lessen its worth. Strap in for yet another pointless summer of hit and giggle/who cares cricket where poor techniques are celebrated and financially rewarded and quality potential batsmen are turned into worthless sloggers overnight. Guys, kids dont pull or hook full tosses in Australia these days. No they are coached to reverse pull and reverse hook the full toss!

  • dummy4fb on July 24, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    As someone who has spent way too much of my 40 years on this earth watching the 5 day game but who also quite enjoys 20/20, I find it really strange that IPL/BBL is taking a complete hammering from all and sundry!

    Over here in Australia, any time there is a decent Test match (and there have been quite a few in the last few years), commentators/journos ALWAYS have to add a disparaging comment about 20/20. I don't get it.

    Personally, I believe that if anything has stunted the growth of test cricket, it is the Ashes series. It is ridiculous, It is exclusionary, and outdated. And while the 05 series was awesome, let's face it there have been 2 maybe 3 decent Ashes series in 35 years! That's the truth!! And to have these same two teams, play time and time again I believe does a total disservice to the 5 day formate.

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    Mind you this does also feel like a bit of an excuse. Look at Joe Root, he is the example for others to follow or Dahwan(sic), these guys(albeit in the embryonic stages of their respective careers) have the skill sets to play any format, any time.

    They just turn up and get on with it.

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    The name says it all. 'The BIG BASH league' well you are reaping the benefits now, they are - Making a HASH of Test cricket. I mentioned this on another article, but without red ball cricket, limited overs cricket would not exist. Just like no-one would exist without their parents. Sure you may not find your parents 'cool' but you sure as hell always love and respect them !

    It's up to those of us who realise this to educate those who do not! And bring on the World Cup for Test cricket. Yes there is the draw problem in a knock out competition, but where there is a will there is a way. I'd go with a(potential) 6th day and if the wkt is that flat you get no result it goes to a simple bowl off. However this could easily be avoided by groundsmen offering pitches that have something in it for the bowlers.

    That is what Test cricket needs as really anytime a team is number one in the world they have loved the longer format, so a 'prize' is important. The race for 4th place would then hot up

  • nottsfan on July 23, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    A very good article. I go to watch the domestic English 20/20 competition but shudder at some of the things I see. Granted the fielding is excellent but how do you learn to bat in such conditions? There is more to batting than trying to find the boundary with every ball. The English administrators should take note and be very careful about managing our own 20/20. Just because we are doing well at the moment doesn't mean that things can't go back the other way again.