Sixers mull Christmas Eve BBL games
The Sydney Sixers and Cricket Australia are eager to play a Big Bash League match on Christmas Eve, as soon as the competition's sixth edition later this year.
This season, the Sixers hosted a record pre-Christmas crowd of 20,072 at the SCG for their inaugural "Christmas Bash" against Hobart Hurricanes on the afternoon of December 20, the last Sunday before Christmas. After the game, as many as 3,000 fans stayed on the outfield to sing Christmas carols.
The Sixers are keen to lock in the last Sunday afternoon before Christmas for the "Christmas Bash" as one of the BBL's "traditional" events, like New Year's Eve in Adelaide and the Melbourne derbies on the first two Saturdays of January, which have so far enjoyed record crowds in BBL05.
Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday in 2016, but the Sixers are keen to host the fixture on that date, so long as it could be scheduled not to clash with the traditional Carols in the Domain, which tends to attract 100,000 people to sing carols in the city. In 2017, the possibility becomes even more appealing, as Christmas Eve falls on the Sixers' favoured Sunday. The BBL has never hosted fixtures on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
"I looked at what we did this year [on December 20] and did wonder whether it had a bit more potential," Anthony Everard, the head of the BBL, told ESPNcricinfo. "It's something that we're considering, but we'd have to get the market and the game right, and package it up in a way that it is really appealing for families at Christmas time."
Any Christmas Eve fixture would start at 4pm, and Dominic Redmond, general manager at the Sixers, is looking into how it could work for the team. "We have certainly thought about it," Redmond said. "We had a great success this year with the Christmas Bash theme, and the fact that the [SCG] Trust allowed punters on to the ground afterwards for carols was a first for us and we got fantastic feedback from members and fans.
"From our perspective, I always like to build on something we started and I would see no reason why we wouldn't try to do something on Christmas Eve. We put a lot of effort into , trying to make it really feel like it was a part of Christmas, rather than competing with Christmas."
The drive for "icon events" and the creation of tradition is born of a belief that, at a busy time of year, consistency of scheduling will make it easier for families and fans to plan to attend. "The idea of this tradition," Redmond said, "like the Boxing Day and New Year's Tests, is to create a destination, a reason for going and a diary entry for us. Consistency of fixtures creates a pattern of behaviour, and all things are pointing in a positive direction for the Christmas Bash, and we're looking to build on that further."
Discussions have also been held about holding a fixture on Christmas Day, and Redmond is not worried about the BBL encroaching on the Christmas period. "It's funny because it will impinge on family time," he said, "but it's also a great opportunity to get together with family and do something. We see what happens with people on Bondi Beach on Christmas, people in Sydney like to get out and enjoy the holiday."
This year there was a two-day break in the BBL (with action returning in Perth on Boxing Day), and the CA chief executive James Sutherland agreed he was alive to the possibilities of more holiday-season cricket. "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 told ABC Grandstand. "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."
Everard explained further about how Christmas Day BBL could work, saying that the concern of players would be at the heart of any decision made. "There is no reason why their families couldn't be flown in and treated to a fantastic Christmas lunch or dinner depending on the time of the game, and make it a big celebration with all of them," he said. "We could align with a charity, whether that's with kids or homeless people, or anyone without a family to spend Christmas with. We could then invite other families down and just make it a really special event and invite people to bring gifts [for those without families]."
There is, however, awareness of overkill. "We certainly wouldn't want to interfere with those traditions that already exist," Everard said. "But whether or not there's an opportunity for the BBL to become part of the Christmas tradition and actually enhance that experience, that would be the aspiration."