Big Bash League 2011-12 December 19, 2011

Why the BBL will flop

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb and state my predictions upfront
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Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb and state my predictions upfront. Right or wrong, at least I won't be accused of pretending to be wise after the event. This post is bound to alienate as many people as it resonates with, so let's just hope we can engage in a civilised dialogue and light-hearted banter. After all, this article is about Twenty20 cricket, so what could be less serious than that? There we go - first shot fired!

I know for a fact that I'm not the only person out there who thinks that the Big Bash League will end up being a flop. Many knowledgeable cricket folk I have spoken to share that view for a number of different reasons. So for the record, let me articulate why I think it is a doomed experiment, regardless of how long the experiment will be persevered with, through sheer bloody-mindedness if nothing else.

Edwin Land, the inventor of Polaroid and a man who probably knew a thing or two about developing quick copies, had this to say about the sort of process that led to the birth of the BBL in some think-tank, possibly at an executive retreat on a beach on a tropical island: "it's not that we need new ideas but we need to stop having old ideas".

Firstly, unlike the IPL (which I still think has a limited shelf life but at least enjoys 'first mover advantage'), the BBL is a cheap copy of a product (the IPL) that operates in a cricket-mad market and attracts the very best players in the world. Australia just doesn't have the sheer numbers who will continue to watch BBL games ad nauseaum. The IPL has proved that it doesn't require significant external interest in the event. Domestic consumption alone is enough to feed the beast, although I'm not quite sure how long it will take before that menu too will start to look a bit tired. But that's another debate altogether. From our perspective here in Australia, domestic interest in the event will wane as soon as the initial novelty wears off. Quality products stand the test of time. You can't throw enough money at a cheap imitation to keep it afloat, regardless of how many bells, whistles and Hollywood starlets you throw at it.

Cricket Australia's marketing gurus are relying upon the sort of tribalism that keeps football clubs throughout the country in plenty of coin. Well actually, even some of those tribes are in serious financial difficulty these days but I think they have totally misread the Australian sports fan. To expect them to follow artificially created franchises (not teams) and engender the sort of tribal passion that characterises AFL and Rugby League is a serious error of judgement. I just can't see a backyard barbeque or dinner party where someone keeps making an excuse to dart into the TV room and check on the score and then return to the patio with all the other blokes waiting to hear the score. That's tribalism. BBL may satisfy the entertainment segment of the market for a short time but it won't get thousands of fans living and breathing every run and wicket, crying tears of joy and pain over their franchise's performance. For a small market like Australia, you will need that die-hard fan base to sustain a viable franchise.

The timing of the BBL is also wrong. Yes, I understand why they need to schedule it for the holiday period but it clashes with too many other things too. Like the Boxing Day Test, the New Year's Test in Sydney, the Australian Open, beach holidays and social gatherings where it would be deemed almost rude to have the cricket playing in the background at an evening family barbeque. In my family for example, if we have guests over for dinner, the television stays off. It's slightly different over a long lunch if the Test cricket is on or if Australia were playing in an ODI but I'm sure there would be many families who would not care for the distraction of a meaningless clash between the Sydney Sixers and the Melbourne Stars dominating the sanctity of a dinner party or evening social engagement.

Further on that point, if the BBL can only survive on the back of garnering interest during the holiday period, doesn't that say something about the whole tribalism thing? None of the football codes that the BBL is trying to emulate needs holidays and good weather to sustain fan interest. In fact, tribalism is best exemplified by the fact that footy fans will turn up in droves on a bitterly cold, wet and windy winter's night to watch their favourite team get flogged every weekend. That's tribalism.

Timing wise, the fact that we have this ridiculous situation in which Cricket Australia has to schedule a so-called 'Batting Camp' before the Boxing Day Test, just underscores how ridiculously out-of-synch our priorities are. Batting Camp? It used to be called Sheffield Shield cricket my friends! You know, that quaint old system that was arguably the best domestic competition in the world? You know, the testing ground where players had to take wickets and score runs before they got selected for a Test match? Bit old-fashioned, I know, but it worked quite nicely for a hundred years or so. Here we are, about to face one of the powerhouses of cricket (India) and our best players have to attend a batting camp to get themselves prepared for the Boxing Day Test? And they keep trying to tell us that Test cricket is still our number one priority. Yeah right.

The over-the-top marketing messages I see from Cricket Australia have clearly been borrowed from our sycophantic obsession with the American marketing machine - it may attract a certain type of audience, but is this where they see the future grassroots support for cricket coming from? They talk about trying to engage with the new generation and that's an admirable ambition, but the danger lies in alienating one loyal set of fans in order to attract an entirely different segment of the market who may only ever consume cricket in this fast food format. I refute the theory that you will be able to migrate these new fans to a longer format of the game. Why would they? Their first experience of cricket will be music, colour, costumes and short attention spans. How do we ever hope to get them to appreciate a brilliant spell of outswing bowling by a Pattinson to a Dravid who is doing everything possible to leave as many as he can without losing his off stump? Where's the fun in that to somebody who has only ever been weaned on a boundary every over, with rap music accompanying every big hit?

Finally, for all those brilliant marketing strategists who reckon that the 'side entertainment' is what attracts people to the game, I have this question to ask of them? What sort of high quality product needs so much diversion to attract a sustainable following? Is the product so inferior that the only way you can sell it is to dress it up in fancy uniforms, loud music and all the circus tricks? Is the product not worthy of standing on its own? Especially for a game like Twenty20, which is so fast-moving, is the audience that bored between each over and each fall of wicket that you have to seduce them with some other form of entertainment to keep them in their seats? Is it not enough that high-quality athletes are smashing sixes, smashing noses (in Brendon McCullum's case) and performing acrobatics in the outfield (Steven Smith on Friday night)? Our old friend Edwin Land of Polaroid fame sums it up rather succinctly when he said "marketing is what you do when your product is no good".

Last night's pantomime at the MCG just about said it all. Has our cricket dropped to such a low level that we're reduced to having an ageing star of yesteryear being the biggest crowd-puller and his girlfriend tossing the coin? We needed to see Shane Warne pashing Liz Hurley to give this BBL product true legitimacy? How long before we run out of famous ex-cricketers with fake blonde hair, dodgy mobile phone etiquette and Hollywood partners?

There's talk in the local newspaper of Shane and Liz being the star attractions for the game in Brisbane on Tuesday night. Gosh, and we've even arranged to mind his kids for him while he supervises Liz tossing! And this is the future that the BBL is banking on for long-term viability? Clearly the cricket itself isn't exciting enough to get people in the door so we need to have the likes of Liz Hurley tossing the coin and playing tonsil hockey with our great leg spinner? This is the vision for the high quality, long-term sustainable product that is going to attract investors and compete with the IPL?

To those marketing geniuses in focus groups, understand this - a BBL franchise will never be a team. It will never be like following the Tigers or the Bulldogs (choose your footy code - same difference). People will see through this tribalism rubbish for what it is. If the product isn't good enough to stand on its own two feet without the distractions, even the new punters you seek to attract will vote with their feet and move on to the next teeny bopper craze.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anna on February 3, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    Have you ever thought about adndig a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and everything. However just imagine if you added some great pictures or videos to give your posts more, pop ! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this blog could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its field. Wonderful blog!

  • Leidy on February 3, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    I am writing to make you know of the raakremble discovery my cousin's child found studying yuor web blog. She figured out many issues, with the inclusion of what it's like to possess a great giving mindset to get the rest with no trouble fully understand a number of specialized matters. You undoubtedly exceeded her expectations. Many thanks for imparting the beneficial, safe, edifying and also cool thoughts on the topic to Lizeth.

  • Richo on December 22, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    I don't understand why CA needed to copy the IPL, the KFC big bash was doing fine with the state teams. I'm not a huge fan of T20, it can be entertaining but i prefer test cricket, it is a bigger mental and physical test. The recent test match against NZ was quite exciting, i was on the edge of my chair trying to spur Warner and Lyon to reach the total. This was a very well written article, i tend to agree with it.

  • Richard Asher on December 22, 2011, 16:16 GMT

    Much as I loathe everything to do with T20, I have to agree with those who have dismissed the 'lack of tribalism' as a valid criticism of BBL. Tribalism does indeed have everything to do with history and culture, and surely nobody can expect it to develop overnight (although it's true that the marketing men seem to try regardless).

    Good point from Glen - if you want tribalism, better to build on the history you've got than start from scratch with new franchises. Silly mistake seen in many sports, dreamt up by people with good powerpoint skills and cutting-edge mobile devices, but who lack the slightest understanding of what really motivates sports fans.

    I'm also inclined to agree that cricket doesn't lend itself to tribalism or mass following (India excepted) anyway, full stop. Not sure anybody can quite explain why, but the evidence is there nonetheless. It's embarassing watching cricket try to be something it's not.

  • PRENAVAN on December 22, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    I PERSONALLY THINK THAT T20 IS THE EPITOME OF CRICKET THERE IS LESS ROOM FOR MISTAKES PLAYING 40 OVERS THAN PLAYING A 450 OVER TEST MATCH IT IS UNPREDICTABLE THAT IS WHERE THE EXCITEMENT LIES

  • TD_160 on December 22, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Michael, I think you are being very harsh on the BBL. Tribalism doesn't appear overnight. People are loyal to their footy team because they have been life-long supporters. In some cases, their families have baracked for the same footy club for three generations. It is absurd to expect these cricket franchises, which are only a few games old, to have the same kind of following. The issues with creating a loyal and passionate fan base are also faced by the new AFL teams (Gold Coast and GWS). That is no reason for the AFL to abandon their commendable work in nationalising the game. Over time, the fan following of these clubs will become no less passionate than that of Geelong or Carlton.

    I, for one, have been thoroughly enjoying the Big Bash this year. The fact that the BBL is scheduled during the Test match period of the international summer is great for limited-overs fans like myself. BBL + (the return of world series cricket) = (the best summer of cricket ever)

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 23:00 GMT

    Also, I see T20 as being the format they can/will bring Associates more ability to compete in matches & attract kids to play, (obviously in the USA but elsewhere too). It is a FACT that the IOC are VERY keen to have cricket in the Olympics. IMO, there is no other format that would suit the time constraints of competition at the Games. The issue being, the Olympics would want more than just the Test playing nations & some token minnows. They would want 25/50/75 nations involved. So many matches would need to be played before a Gold medal was awarded. So the BBL could be perceived as an Olympic career path, which would guarantee its survival.

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 22:51 GMT

    As I said - I'm not a fan of T20 cricket, IMO though the BBL can survive on attracting the "non test" cricket fan, even if they don't get sucked over to the main event. I don't really think it's about the now either, as I think Cric Oz, is trying to stitch up the young people (under 18 - primarily U12), who COULD EASILY enjoy T20, & decide they want to play cricket at School or in week end comps. Also, by providing a genuine "money trail" talented teenagers who could easily take up a professional sporting career in many different sporting codes, may seriously think well I could make a career out of cricket. I had many mates who weren't quite good enough to play in the NRL, so they went to England, France (even Italy) to get paid almost what they would of got playing in the NRL. No different to Christian (at the time), getting $900k for an IPL stint!

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    The entire BBL's salary cap is less than one IPL side. Loosely speaking, IF KFC was to sponsor the BBL for $8m per year, (not a really big sum of money for National comp), the hard costs of the "experiment" is covered, AND that doesn't include PAYTV rights. The BBL could extract a tidy sum from Foxsports, as outside the Footy season, what else is there. Jeh mentions the Oz Open, but that is on Free-to-Air, so why watch PayTV?? PayTV requires flagship events all round the calendar. They are fortunate that the Footy seasons account for almost 9mths of the year. What to do with the remaining 3 mths apart from re-runs of classic matches? International cricket is covered by Free-to-air, so again, during summer, why watch PayTV. Jeh makes a good point about social functions & having the TV off, but how many family events does the ave person have in any given month? Still leaves plenty of couch time. TBC

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    I am a diehard Test match fan. That being said because of T20 cricket, I actually really love the old 50 over format too. I am not overly interested in T20 cricket. I do agree with Jeh's commment that "...the danger lies in alienating one loyal set of fans in order to attract an entirely different segment of the market..." Cric Oz is trying to walk a tight rope. They put spin on the fact that they scheduled MORE Shield games before the test series, (not admitting that it was about clearing a window), so as the "primacy" of Shield cricket as a "pathway" to the Baggy Green continues. All of that being said, I actually think that if it weren't for the lack of Shield cricket right now, the BBL experiment would work & IS sustainable. I say that because it is NOT a "cheap" impersonation of the IPL, it's a low-cost version. That IMO is an important distinction. The IPL is unsustainable & if PayTV viewership continues to decline - there will be some spectacular financial collapses looming. TBC

  • Anna on February 3, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    Have you ever thought about adndig a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and everything. However just imagine if you added some great pictures or videos to give your posts more, pop ! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this blog could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its field. Wonderful blog!

  • Leidy on February 3, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    I am writing to make you know of the raakremble discovery my cousin's child found studying yuor web blog. She figured out many issues, with the inclusion of what it's like to possess a great giving mindset to get the rest with no trouble fully understand a number of specialized matters. You undoubtedly exceeded her expectations. Many thanks for imparting the beneficial, safe, edifying and also cool thoughts on the topic to Lizeth.

  • Richo on December 22, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    I don't understand why CA needed to copy the IPL, the KFC big bash was doing fine with the state teams. I'm not a huge fan of T20, it can be entertaining but i prefer test cricket, it is a bigger mental and physical test. The recent test match against NZ was quite exciting, i was on the edge of my chair trying to spur Warner and Lyon to reach the total. This was a very well written article, i tend to agree with it.

  • Richard Asher on December 22, 2011, 16:16 GMT

    Much as I loathe everything to do with T20, I have to agree with those who have dismissed the 'lack of tribalism' as a valid criticism of BBL. Tribalism does indeed have everything to do with history and culture, and surely nobody can expect it to develop overnight (although it's true that the marketing men seem to try regardless).

    Good point from Glen - if you want tribalism, better to build on the history you've got than start from scratch with new franchises. Silly mistake seen in many sports, dreamt up by people with good powerpoint skills and cutting-edge mobile devices, but who lack the slightest understanding of what really motivates sports fans.

    I'm also inclined to agree that cricket doesn't lend itself to tribalism or mass following (India excepted) anyway, full stop. Not sure anybody can quite explain why, but the evidence is there nonetheless. It's embarassing watching cricket try to be something it's not.

  • PRENAVAN on December 22, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    I PERSONALLY THINK THAT T20 IS THE EPITOME OF CRICKET THERE IS LESS ROOM FOR MISTAKES PLAYING 40 OVERS THAN PLAYING A 450 OVER TEST MATCH IT IS UNPREDICTABLE THAT IS WHERE THE EXCITEMENT LIES

  • TD_160 on December 22, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Michael, I think you are being very harsh on the BBL. Tribalism doesn't appear overnight. People are loyal to their footy team because they have been life-long supporters. In some cases, their families have baracked for the same footy club for three generations. It is absurd to expect these cricket franchises, which are only a few games old, to have the same kind of following. The issues with creating a loyal and passionate fan base are also faced by the new AFL teams (Gold Coast and GWS). That is no reason for the AFL to abandon their commendable work in nationalising the game. Over time, the fan following of these clubs will become no less passionate than that of Geelong or Carlton.

    I, for one, have been thoroughly enjoying the Big Bash this year. The fact that the BBL is scheduled during the Test match period of the international summer is great for limited-overs fans like myself. BBL + (the return of world series cricket) = (the best summer of cricket ever)

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 23:00 GMT

    Also, I see T20 as being the format they can/will bring Associates more ability to compete in matches & attract kids to play, (obviously in the USA but elsewhere too). It is a FACT that the IOC are VERY keen to have cricket in the Olympics. IMO, there is no other format that would suit the time constraints of competition at the Games. The issue being, the Olympics would want more than just the Test playing nations & some token minnows. They would want 25/50/75 nations involved. So many matches would need to be played before a Gold medal was awarded. So the BBL could be perceived as an Olympic career path, which would guarantee its survival.

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 22:51 GMT

    As I said - I'm not a fan of T20 cricket, IMO though the BBL can survive on attracting the "non test" cricket fan, even if they don't get sucked over to the main event. I don't really think it's about the now either, as I think Cric Oz, is trying to stitch up the young people (under 18 - primarily U12), who COULD EASILY enjoy T20, & decide they want to play cricket at School or in week end comps. Also, by providing a genuine "money trail" talented teenagers who could easily take up a professional sporting career in many different sporting codes, may seriously think well I could make a career out of cricket. I had many mates who weren't quite good enough to play in the NRL, so they went to England, France (even Italy) to get paid almost what they would of got playing in the NRL. No different to Christian (at the time), getting $900k for an IPL stint!

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    The entire BBL's salary cap is less than one IPL side. Loosely speaking, IF KFC was to sponsor the BBL for $8m per year, (not a really big sum of money for National comp), the hard costs of the "experiment" is covered, AND that doesn't include PAYTV rights. The BBL could extract a tidy sum from Foxsports, as outside the Footy season, what else is there. Jeh mentions the Oz Open, but that is on Free-to-Air, so why watch PayTV?? PayTV requires flagship events all round the calendar. They are fortunate that the Footy seasons account for almost 9mths of the year. What to do with the remaining 3 mths apart from re-runs of classic matches? International cricket is covered by Free-to-air, so again, during summer, why watch PayTV. Jeh makes a good point about social functions & having the TV off, but how many family events does the ave person have in any given month? Still leaves plenty of couch time. TBC

  • Meety on December 21, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    I am a diehard Test match fan. That being said because of T20 cricket, I actually really love the old 50 over format too. I am not overly interested in T20 cricket. I do agree with Jeh's commment that "...the danger lies in alienating one loyal set of fans in order to attract an entirely different segment of the market..." Cric Oz is trying to walk a tight rope. They put spin on the fact that they scheduled MORE Shield games before the test series, (not admitting that it was about clearing a window), so as the "primacy" of Shield cricket as a "pathway" to the Baggy Green continues. All of that being said, I actually think that if it weren't for the lack of Shield cricket right now, the BBL experiment would work & IS sustainable. I say that because it is NOT a "cheap" impersonation of the IPL, it's a low-cost version. That IMO is an important distinction. The IPL is unsustainable & if PayTV viewership continues to decline - there will be some spectacular financial collapses looming. TBC

  • Sriram on December 21, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    You like it or dont like it, its here to stay, the Franchise based t20..that is the only future of Cricket..ODI will die with probaby 2015 WC..T20 is the only possibility to keep people coming to watch cricket..the world is changing so why not change...Didnt 6 day tests become 5 days, didnt rest days go away, didnt we see 60 overs per side ODI die, I agree with Rahul Dravid, make ODI an ICC event, T20 a club sport and Tests between top 6 in the world who have intrest in it.

  • raghu on December 21, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    BBL is utter flap concept made by CA. No player action. Not many foreign players involved. Doesn't have a consistent Captain to any Team. More over no Indian player included init. Doesn't have twenty20 excepts.

  • Dhruv Gupta on December 21, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    very true man.........I am a writer myself, and this will be an understatement that this is the best article I have read in recent times.........Its important for people and administrators to know that quality matters with appreciation of the 1% cream and not the remaining jugs who will the numbers

  • Nick Ephraims on December 21, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    I agree with much of what you have said in this article Fox! I was at the Gabba last night and I was highly disappointed with what I saw. I thought it was a good idea to grab some food about 7 overs into Melbourne's innings but ended up missing about 6 overs because the lines were way too long! One of my mates got kicked out of the ground for 'pretending' to jump the fence which was unbelievable. I had the misfortune of sitting in front of the flamethrowers and after every boundary or wicket had my face melted off by a spout of flame.

    If they want to compete with the IPL they need to allow more spots in each team for international players are further separate it from the state sides and not associate players with their home cities.

  • blakey on December 21, 2011, 1:57 GMT

    Even though it can be entertaining and a way to spend an evening when the rest of the family is out, I just can't abide the false excitement in the voices of Brendan Julian, Mark Waugh, Allan Border and Haydos.I realise they're paid to be excited, but come one, guys - the stadiums are mostly empty and the atmosphere is zilch!

  • Raj Kumar on December 20, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    Test cricket is the real cricket in my humble opinion. ODI's maintain some elements of test cricket. 20/20 is pure entertainment, nothing else, and should be treated as only entertainment.

  • Richard S on December 20, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    To continue on from what I said before. I can forsee a split in Cricket between the Country's where Cricket is the only sport - i.e the Indian sub-continent - and the country's where criket is one of many sports and fits a niche. I can see Test Cricket surviving in England, Australia (when they have got over trying to copy the IPL, South Africa and New Zealand, and the Asian's inviting Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle to join them in a perpetual merry go round of Twenty20 games. I know where I'd rather be.

  • Richard S on December 20, 2011, 11:52 GMT

    Cricket needs to stop attempting to copy Football and that weird egg chasing game Australians play. They have been around 100+ years, the teams are local institutions and the sport is coded into the culture of certain areas. In England, as somebody else has said, the Football season is long, it bubbles slowly and there are big games scattered through the season to be looked forward to, along with other ones with short term significance. I.e Man City v Spurs is a bg game this year because they are at the top of the table, Liverpool v Man Utd is a big game each and every year, regardless. Its a part of life, of culture, that is always there, and is discussed endlessly. Cricket is like a relaxing little interlude to enjoy on warm summer days. Nobody follows it really, other than test series, the games are more like one off events. Some two week slog fest between a load of Indians and South Africans nobody has ever heard of will change that. Cricket has its role and does it well.

  • Rahul on December 20, 2011, 10:29 GMT

    Excellent point made here. I dont like IPL as well, because I havent seen a single cricketer being found and then make a name for himself in national cricket because of his exploits in IPL. But IPL still supports the players who would have never been selected in their national teams.

    BBL on the other hand is just wrong since it comes at a time, when Australia are their all time low in last two decades. CA needs to focus on the national team, build a core group which can sustain their dominance in world cricket for another decade or so, when they are investing time and money in something very ridiculous.

  • Glen on December 20, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    If CA wants to develop tribalism, how is this helped by little Johnny supporting a different team (e.g. the Scorchers) from his Dad (who watched WA roll SA for 87 in a FAI Cup final in the 90s) and Grandpa (who remembers WA winning a hat-trick of Sheffield Shield titles in the 80s)? The format of the game may be different, but at least the name (yes, I accept that the "Warriors" is a fairly new moniker) and colours can be the same.

    Of course, the creation of the BBL was actually nothing to do with creating tribalism, or opening up new markets (e.g. females, teens). It is all to do with facilitating limited foreign investment, specifically as a way of preventing a direct raid on Australian players (ala WSC) by a foreign entrepreneur.

  • Slugger on December 19, 2011, 22:29 GMT

    the thing people forget is that in this day and age, people have access all sorts of entainment, by just a simple push of the button. Teams from yesturday year grew from popularity due to the a small pool of entertainment. It's unfair to be hard on the BBL it's crictics are comparing it to teams/sports that existed even before the invention of television. The US baseball clubs are a franchises but they just have a long history. BBL like Super Rugby Also just needs time to grow.

  • Hazzard County Cricket Club on December 19, 2011, 20:19 GMT

    the BBL is a joke. the IPL is a joke. 20/20 is a joke.

    get rid of it - all of it.

  • Dhruv on December 19, 2011, 16:06 GMT

    @ GE The Indian board has forbidden the BBL and told the players they cant go..of course they were invited. ROCKSTARS!

  • Horse on December 19, 2011, 15:59 GMT

    GE, it was the BCCI who made their players unavailable.

  • Robert on December 19, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    I think all T20 competitions suffer the same handicap, actually. In all major football codes (and most team sports) - the season is structured around the league - and it lasts for a number of months. Internationals occur in between rounds, in breaks, or off season. The long season enables it to remain in the public mind, it gives people a chance to anticipate games in between rounds.

    T20 competitions, on the other hand, all run far too short. You blink and then it's all over - then you see that your team's star player actually also plays in the IPL, in England, South Africa, maybe New Zealand or Zimbabwe. Every year I can virtually guarantee you that Gayle, Warner, and Pollard will be in the Champions Trophy - and probably playing for different teams each time :)

    On the other hand, the games are incredibly entertaining and fun. The potential is immense - but won't be reached until it's scheduled seriously. Concessions to the longer form of the game will retard its development.

  • Anonymous on December 19, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    Tribalism in sport is based on the history of said team. Most football fans (and by that I mean soccer) support the team their family have always supported, so that loyalty's instilled in them from an early age. Instant tribalism with a brand new team is going to be impossible. Give it 10 years. It's also pretty futile for a cricket fan to look on this objectively, since t20 is really aimed people who don't like cricket (ie most of the planet).

  • Aparajithan on December 19, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    I think it is time cricket stop trying to become a populist sport. It never was and never will become. If not for India, cricket would have remained a small sport... What happened with India was an accident, or a coincidence of the growing Indian economy coinciding with the 83 World Cup and a certain Sachin Tendulkar. I don't think cricket will go back to it's origins nor will it challenge football/soccer... It's about people accepting a stable middle ground and finding a system that works well within that, rather than carrying around a doomsday attitude that thinks cricket will die if not for T20...

  • Antony on December 19, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    Bravo! This is the best of your articles, so far as I have seen. No doubt- like me- you were thinking/espousing these ideals as the IPL became popular. All it will take for the IPL to fold is for India to lost the next T20 championship. If allowed.

  • Hassan on December 19, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    Your good at saying what needs to stop but have no idea of a better proven solution. Cricket outside the sub continent is down for the count. Boards need to put grass roots movements in place to get people playing young and early. The AFL has won over supporters for that reason alone.

  • GE on December 19, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    What I have noticed that not one Indian player has been invited to play in the BBL. It is only a matter of time that the IPL will ban Aussies from participating in the IPL. This is going to be the first nail in the coffin of the BBL. Eventually the IPL governing body will give an alternative to the Aussies that they will have to choose between the IPL and the BBL. The ACB will withold clearance of those leaving the BBL. Let's wait what happens then.

  • Reddy on December 19, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    There's some fair point here. How do you then get one to approach tribalism to a newly engineered team?

  • Nabeel on December 19, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Well I agree with a few things and contradict a few views. 1. The timing is wrong. The tournment should be played on weekends over a longer duration. That will get fan following. But again with weather being a major factor in cricket, summer is the best time. 2. We have Soccer and other sports being very popular as Clubs with the fan following mentioned in the article. But that has not been the case with cricket. May be it is the way things will work out better. With all its vices, one thing that IPL got was more money for professional domestic cricketers, who may never make it to the national side and also some amount of fame. I myself didn't know many of the players. Maybe this will bring in that new culture where domestic players (non international) can make a good living out of cricket. 3. I understand this is something new and there are lots of ifs. But let us see it as a begining like the world series. It may not succed, or it may just evolve into something we haven't imagined

  • Kieron Azure on December 19, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    Exceptional article! Although the IPL is radically over-the-top, Indian fans will come watch the cricket "despite" all that simply because they have a ravenous appetite for cricket and the presence of a galaxy of international stars.

    The IPL would not have been any less of a success if it didn't have the Bollywood starlets in attendance for every game. The Indian public generously takes all that as a bonus but makes no bones about what it comes to see- the cricket.

    However, I understand that in Australia and many other nations these marketing gimmicks are looked up with a frown and quickly shunned. I think Australia should stop milking Warne and his "exploits" which must frankly be embarrassing rather than celebratory to the nation. Warner has shown some serious talent and his hundred alone was worth the ticket fees. If Australia can concentrate on its present cricket stars, this venture might be a success. The response may get better next year (since India won't tour then).

  • JC on December 19, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Well said sir I concur

  • Anil Joseph on December 19, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    I agree with the author. The one point which in my opinion is the biggest reason for the likely failure of the Big Bash is the relative paucity of international players enrolled for the Big Bash. The huge attendances for the IPL even it was played in South Africa was only because it featured several quality international players.

    Though there are a handful like Pollard, Afridi, Razzaq, Mccullum, Gibbs and Vettori, most of these were present even in last year's State side based big bash.

    Hence, the product appears to be the same as last year's Big Bash and there is nothing new to offer. Marketing is fine, but it should be backed by content and product differentiation. Big Bash has a lot to learn from the IPL.

  • Tony Rai on December 19, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    they shoud have made it a 7 team event with NT making the 7th team.

  • Anonymous on December 19, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    here, here micheal. i just wonder how much more it will cost the baggygreen before they finally see the light????? shefield shield is meant to be played in summer not at the end of spring and the start of autumn!

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  • Anonymous on December 19, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    here, here micheal. i just wonder how much more it will cost the baggygreen before they finally see the light????? shefield shield is meant to be played in summer not at the end of spring and the start of autumn!

  • Tony Rai on December 19, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    they shoud have made it a 7 team event with NT making the 7th team.

  • Anil Joseph on December 19, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    I agree with the author. The one point which in my opinion is the biggest reason for the likely failure of the Big Bash is the relative paucity of international players enrolled for the Big Bash. The huge attendances for the IPL even it was played in South Africa was only because it featured several quality international players.

    Though there are a handful like Pollard, Afridi, Razzaq, Mccullum, Gibbs and Vettori, most of these were present even in last year's State side based big bash.

    Hence, the product appears to be the same as last year's Big Bash and there is nothing new to offer. Marketing is fine, but it should be backed by content and product differentiation. Big Bash has a lot to learn from the IPL.

  • JC on December 19, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Well said sir I concur

  • Kieron Azure on December 19, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    Exceptional article! Although the IPL is radically over-the-top, Indian fans will come watch the cricket "despite" all that simply because they have a ravenous appetite for cricket and the presence of a galaxy of international stars.

    The IPL would not have been any less of a success if it didn't have the Bollywood starlets in attendance for every game. The Indian public generously takes all that as a bonus but makes no bones about what it comes to see- the cricket.

    However, I understand that in Australia and many other nations these marketing gimmicks are looked up with a frown and quickly shunned. I think Australia should stop milking Warne and his "exploits" which must frankly be embarrassing rather than celebratory to the nation. Warner has shown some serious talent and his hundred alone was worth the ticket fees. If Australia can concentrate on its present cricket stars, this venture might be a success. The response may get better next year (since India won't tour then).

  • Nabeel on December 19, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Well I agree with a few things and contradict a few views. 1. The timing is wrong. The tournment should be played on weekends over a longer duration. That will get fan following. But again with weather being a major factor in cricket, summer is the best time. 2. We have Soccer and other sports being very popular as Clubs with the fan following mentioned in the article. But that has not been the case with cricket. May be it is the way things will work out better. With all its vices, one thing that IPL got was more money for professional domestic cricketers, who may never make it to the national side and also some amount of fame. I myself didn't know many of the players. Maybe this will bring in that new culture where domestic players (non international) can make a good living out of cricket. 3. I understand this is something new and there are lots of ifs. But let us see it as a begining like the world series. It may not succed, or it may just evolve into something we haven't imagined

  • Reddy on December 19, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    There's some fair point here. How do you then get one to approach tribalism to a newly engineered team?

  • GE on December 19, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    What I have noticed that not one Indian player has been invited to play in the BBL. It is only a matter of time that the IPL will ban Aussies from participating in the IPL. This is going to be the first nail in the coffin of the BBL. Eventually the IPL governing body will give an alternative to the Aussies that they will have to choose between the IPL and the BBL. The ACB will withold clearance of those leaving the BBL. Let's wait what happens then.

  • Hassan on December 19, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    Your good at saying what needs to stop but have no idea of a better proven solution. Cricket outside the sub continent is down for the count. Boards need to put grass roots movements in place to get people playing young and early. The AFL has won over supporters for that reason alone.

  • Antony on December 19, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    Bravo! This is the best of your articles, so far as I have seen. No doubt- like me- you were thinking/espousing these ideals as the IPL became popular. All it will take for the IPL to fold is for India to lost the next T20 championship. If allowed.