January 12, 2013

Big Bash League 2012-13

A professional analysis of the BBL

Andrew Hughes
Johan Botha loses the ball in his attempt to run out Chris Gayle, Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers, Big Bash League, December 20, 2012
BBL: where French Riviera blue meets the sordid red of Bangkok's city lights  © Getty Images
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First of all, I would like to apologise. This week's blog isn't as funny as usual. Some might consider this quite an achievement. They might elaborate by pointing out that you already need a powerful humour microscope to detect the levity in the Long Handle and that any further diminution in the chuckle quotient might render it completely undetectable to the human brain.

Nevertheless, there comes a moment in any part-time, semi-professional, semi-literate cricket blogger's life when he or she yearns to break the stifling bonds of mere humour and be taken seriously as a proper cricket scribbler.

Obviously, real cricket journalists have to spend years learning the skills of their trade: how to type without moving your lips; how to balance a carton of coffee, a laptop and a doughnut; how to make a plausible expenses claim. I should really sign up for a course; learn all about publishing law, ethics, fact-checking, nouns, verbs, punctuation and stuff.

But I'm going out tonight and there's a good film on BBC2 tomorrow, so I thought I'd just waffle on for a bit about something I saw in the news and see how it goes.

And luckily enough, there's plenty of juicy cricket controversy about. In the last few days the Barbequed Banana League has turned ugly, or at least, uglier. After the Melbourne Handbags squared up to the Melbourne Histrionics last week, the pinching, pushing and hair-pulling has spilled over into the press box. Haters have been goading Cheerleaders. Sherry-sniffing snobs have swapped sarcastic blows with brain-dead corporate stooges.

What's going on? It seems the BBL-sceptics are turned off by the hype, by the hoopla, by the gaudy polyester shirts, and above all, by Luke Wright. As Gideon Haigh put it, "What I'm against is mediocre cricket.'"

But maybe it's not the mediocre cricket per se that bothers Gideon. Maybe he's worried that if he has to watch too much BBL, he might wake up one day and not know what mediocre cricket looks like anymore. If a wine connoisseur is forced to spend forty-eight successive summer evenings sipping pomegranate and cherry flavoured cola through a pink curly straw, do his taste buds lose their edge? After all, civilisation depends on the notion of objective quality. If you can no longer tell that Beethoven is better than Beiber, then surely it can only be a matter of time before the Visigoths are strolling up your driveway.

On the other hand, this isn't civilisation, it's only cricket. And what is Twenty20 if not cricket boiled down to its most exciting bits, then sold to people.

Is Test cricket better than T20? That's the wrong question. Apart from the bat, the ball and the relentlessly awful commentary, they have nothing in common. They don't even belong to the same genus. You might just as well ask which is best: rollercoasters or cheese? T20 is a popular sporting event. Test cricket is a Victorian re-enactment.

Anyway, like a proper journalist, I thought I'd do some investigating, so I dug up the highlights of the Adelaide Arthroscopies against the Perth Potato Ponderers on the web. After studying the broadcast for several long minutes, with just the briefest of pauses to answer the door to a Vandal who was trying to sell me double-glazing, I can reveal the following:

Good Things I Discovered About the BBL

1. Shaun Marsh flicking the ball over mid-off for six 2. The blue of Adelaide's blue shirts. It's lovely 3. Shaun Tait's in it

Bad Things I Discovered About the BBL

1. The shouty men in the Fox studio who have overdosed on elocution lessons and botox. 2. The wordplay: "There was more champagne from Beer…" 3. The flashing bails. They've put lights in the bails. I don't know why.

So there you go. Much to be said on both sides. Swings and roundabouts. On the one hand but then on the other. Make up your own minds. I'm off out.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Suneel on (January 19, 2013, 0:39 GMT)

"Is Test cricket better than T20? That’s the wrong question. Apart from the bat, the ball and the relentlessly awful commentary, they have nothing in common." lol..

Well Said Mr. Hughes..

Posted by Cliff on (January 16, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

The flashing bails are actually quite good and would be even sweeter if the games were played at night. I did catch a game over the Christmas holidays: it was between Chris Gayle's team from Sydney and the other team from Sydney with Narine on it. It was played in some covered Aussie rules football stadium so the game looked as though it were being played at dusk even though it looked to be quite sunny outside. Chris Gayle was crap (continuing a run of mediocrity), Narine was bamboozlingly sublime (to the point where the batsmen couldn't even figure out how to get out), an Aussie quick with a Dutch name was fiery and an Aussie batsman with a Pakistani name was more than competent. The rest of it was crap though: a combination of superannuated international players looking like they're playing in a charity match, over-eager young pups who don't shave more than once a week, and never-will-be geezers who make me hopeful about my international career.

Posted by Yussuf on (January 14, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

Different strokes for different folks....T20 is for instant coffee kind of people to get a quick buzz and it is over just as soon as it has started.However Test Cricket is for a person who knows and understands modern day warfare and human brains function under undue stress and intense pressure. People who watch Test cricket are not mere watchers of a game but part of an event in history.So get the facts and the types of people correct before you go to journalistic school and learn about history and what makes an event so worth watching before mouthing off at what other people do to earn money.If you ever played and enjoyed cricket you would never bad mouth a game that unites people just for the pleasure of said for mentioned game!

Posted by Trini on (January 13, 2013, 4:09 GMT)

Woo hoo. First to post

Posted by Zeeshan Javed on (January 12, 2013, 21:18 GMT)

Well one reason to have the flashing bails is to assist the umpires in run out decisions. No more "Benefit of the doubt to the Batsman" stuff. Bail dislodges, lights up red, batsman walks. Simple as that, just like Sohail Tanvir's bowling action. By the way, how cool is that picture ?

Posted by Sarthak on (January 12, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

Don't know how this franchise frenzy would work out for cricket. Hoping that 'Perth Potato Ponderers' & the likes do not get too unwholesome for the game!

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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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