|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
Ask a random citizen at the bus stop if they're following the BBL and you'll get a variety of responses: embarrassed shoe-gazing, irritated bafflement or even mild alarm, as though you might be trying to sell them a new religion.
The internet doesn't rate it either. Pop B, B and L into your favourite search engine and this feast of Aussie cricket fun turns up halfway down page seven, below the British Basketball League; the Baltic Basketball League; the Balgzand Bacton Line; Basingstoke Boilers Limited; Big Birthday Llamas of Bolivar Boulevard, Lima, and Barry's Bargain Lawnmowers (end of season sale now on, hurry while stocks last!)
Of course, you could type "Big Bash League" and get there straight away. But we 21st-century types barely have time to eat our breakfast, let alone waste energy on superfluous vowels and consonants. When people wish to communicate on the subject of India's foremost annual Twenty20 competition, do they laboriously elucidate the full title? No. Tap out I, P and L and you are in franchise land in about 0.03 seconds.
Those three letters deserve more exposure, because the BBL is a splendid thing. Unlike the English version, which features a fixture list that looks like the map of the London Underground and drags on longer than Jonathan Trott's attempts to build a new garden wall (seven weeks in and he's still marking out the foundations) the BBL is short, sharp, sexy and silly, as all Twenty20 tournaments should be.
Thursday's game in Perth was particularly silly. The pitch was springier than a tightly stuffed mattress balanced on a trampoline, and the first ball to Herschelle Gibbs produced a rare sighting of the lesser-spotted double drop. A throat-high edge hung in the air and as first the keeper then first slip had a flap at it, like orchard farmers trying in vain to snatch a pomegranate from the claws of a thieving fruit bat.
Herschelle's chum Marcus wasn't quite so lucky when he tried to deal with a Malinga snail-tickler through the unusual method of getting out of the way and hoping for the best. The commentator described it as a "serious yorker" but Lasith has a greater range than that. He has light-hearted, quirky yorkers; irresponsibly reckless yorkers; yorkers that can remove oysters from their shells, and, as he showed when bowling Joe Mennie, yorkers that can appear to pass through solid willow objects.
Even by the standards of T20, 69 is a teeny tiny total and Melbourne Stars got it thanks to Luke Wright, a helping hand from Simon "Can't catch it" Katich and the Duckworth Lewis Conundrum. An 80-minute rain break turned the cauldron of flame into a bowl of steam and threatened to allow Perth off the hook. But it wasn't to be and the men in lime simply had to face one post-deluge ball to win. There was much arm-waving and lower lip protrusion from the Scorchers, but if it wasn't for the rain, they'd have lost 75 minutes earlier, so they hadn't anything to complain about.
And they need to buck their ideas up. I'm no cricket expert but even I know that if it's trophies you're after, winning is a far more successful strategy than not winning, and so far this season, the orangey ones have as many wins as there are teeth in a hen's mouth, ounces of cheddar on the moon and American presidents called Mitt.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73