December 17, 2011

Big Bash League 2011-12

A bloody Baz and a menacing MacGill

Andrew Hughes
Brendon McCullum had to retire hurt for treatment after getting hit on the nose by a short ball from Brett Lee, Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat, Big Bash League, SCG, December 16, 2011
"Yes, I have just been smashed on the nose by a leather ball. Yes, it hurts like hell. Yes, I do feel a bit light-headed, but really, it's just a scratch"  © Getty Images
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Thursday, 15th December Ouch! I’ve never faced Steyn and Philander on a green wicket but I imagine it’s not the most congenial way to spend a Thursday afternoon. After an hour or two of watching hard leathery ball smack repeatedly into Sri Lankan rib cage I was starting to wince, and I’m 3000 miles away. I expect tomorrow I’ll wake up covered in sympathy bruises with an overactive duck reflex.

Still, I do think it’s time for Sri Lankan cricket to have a rethink. In this day and age, you simply can’t expect unpaid amateurs to hold their own against professionals.

Friday, 16th December I haven’t yet been able to find a place to watch the Big Bash League so I don’t know what the opening ceremony was like. I’m guessing cheerleaders, fireworks, enormous papier mâché Richie Benaud heads parading around the outfield on stilts, a hologram of Donald Bradman giving the whole thing his blessing and James Sutherland wearing an Australian flag skydiving onto the pitch from a Martian spacecraft.

The usual kind of stuff.

I did manage to find highlights of the game on the tournament website, although I was a little disappointed to find that the entire three-hour experience had been boiled down to 2:58 minutes. And then my teeth began to itch as I was forced to watch two excessively hair-gelled presenters throwing away 25 seconds of valuable highlight time by giving us a précis of the already edited action.

And what did we see through this tiny window on BBL World?

Well, I saw Brett Lee looking mean, followed by Brendon McCullum bleeding casually in that manly way that men who can’t see themselves bleeding can pull off. Had the physio brought out a mirror along with his sponge, I reckon Brendon would have been swooning onto the turf faster than a Victorian lady who has just found out that her daughter is eloping with the chimney-sweep.

I saw grey-haired Stuart MacGill roaring like a whiskery old lion who has just outrun all the younger cubs in the pride to haul down a wildebeest (although to be honest, Matthew was straggling badly at the back of the herd and is a bit long in the hoof these days.) I saw some evil-looking slogs that were so scandalously wrong I had to pop into church for extra confession afterwards.

And I was pleased to note a raising of the quality bar from the men in the booth. One commentator specified that a particular six had gone straight into row 15. Not 14 or 16, you’ll note, but 15. That’s precision commentary and a challenge to Mr Shastri, who can’t be bothered to count the rows but instead tries to convince us of the existence of a mythical “Row Z”.

So to summarise: bleeding, slogging, sixes and oldies. Not a bad 2:35 minutes worth of entertainment. Keep it up, Mr Sutherland and I might even be persuaded to buy a Perth Scorchers tea cosy. (“Keeps your teapot Scorching hot!”)

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Andrew Hughes on (December 22, 2011, 9:45 GMT)

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment

And thanks to John, for filling me on the opening ceremony; it sounded disappointingly low key.

Aakash, I like Twenty20, I have seen every edition of the IPL and the Champions League and I am doing my best to keep up with the BBL. The suggestion that I think people who like Twenty20 are beneath me is absurd and suggests that you haven't even read the article upon which you have commented.

Ganesh, I have a confession, the Scorchers are the team I picked to win the thing. I claimed to be impressed by their balance of youth and experience, but in reality, I usually go for the team wearing purple.

Posted by Ganesh on (December 19, 2011, 3:13 GMT)

Haydos looked completely out of sorts didn't he? I LOLed at this one "slogs that were so scandalously wrong I had to pop into church for extra confession afterwards".

As far as Scorchers (my local team) is concerned, they were shocking. Scorcher Torture relying on old fossils like Gibbs and Collingwood!

On another note, was saddening to see Sri-Lanka surrendering that easily in the 1st test. One Mr. J Kallis amazes me, came in later in the second Lankan inning to bump Dilhara Fernando with 145 K thunderbolts. Best All-rounder hands down!

Posted by smudgeon on (December 18, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

Don't believe that 2:35 worth of highlights, it was a curiously hollow match. The best bit really was Baz's reaction to being hit - he didn't bat an eyelid (they breed 'em tough in Dunedin), and from what I saw Lee & Haddin were far more concerned than he was. Hopefully the whole spectacle (and crowds) ramps up a little in the next week or so, otherwise the only conclusion you can draw is that even popcorn cricket is fast losing favour with the Australian public...

Posted by Matthew on (December 17, 2011, 21:45 GMT)

@Matt, Lee said on Channel 9 during the Hobart Test that he doesnt enjoy hurting the batsmen, but as a bowler you have to act tough and mean

Posted by John on (December 17, 2011, 20:43 GMT)

The opening ceremony was poor. DJ Paul Mac spun some discs while a group of kids held up banners representing each team and a pre-recorded video had team captains try to gush about why their franchise is so important to them.

The crowd was poor, better than a Shield game, but it couldn't have been more than 10,000.

The team colours were weird. You expect NSW teams in Blue and Qld teams in red, not the other way round.

The game was okay. Recent rain put a bit of life in the pitch. Brisbane struggled to get going until Bravo and Smith came on, and that was short-lived. Sydney always looked like getting there but Haddin was the only one who seemed comfortable in the conditions. If he had gone early, it could have been close.

Posted by Aakash on (December 17, 2011, 19:31 GMT)

Grow up Mr. Hughes. While you may not be a fan of T20 cricket, it does not mean people who are, are on a level beneath you. So get off your high horse.

Also, I hope this article was not meant to be funny because if it was, it failed miserably.

Posted by Andrew'sNewBest Friend on (December 17, 2011, 15:10 GMT)

That Andrew, was the best 2:35 minutes worth of entertainment since you last made an effort. Thank you and have a merry Christmas.

Posted by sainta on (December 17, 2011, 14:26 GMT)

ok how's this for a deal maybe t20 leagues should be barbaric like WWE where bowlers are allowed to bowl 3 bouncers per over and batsman should have no helmets, part of the game would be to survive while scoring runs.. im sure the barbaric masses would really love that.

Posted by Pat on (December 17, 2011, 13:45 GMT)

Awesome and succinct comment about unpaid SL amateurs. Sad, but true.

Posted by Matt on (December 17, 2011, 7:16 GMT)

I think fast bowlers like Lee actually really enjoy making batsmen bleed, they go up to the batsmen with a false concern, simply because they would be rubbished if they didn't. In t20, which is a batsman's game, the bowlers have to try and find some sort of advantage, and making them bleed is how Lee does it!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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