A professional analysis of the BBL
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