December 21, 2013

Time for Australia's Mardi Gras

What can we expect from the gaudy, celebrity-haunted Big Bash League?

If you're bored with the cricket at the Big Bash League, there are always UFOs © Getty Images

The three-Test Ashes was fun, but there's still a whole week to go before the next English humiliation, so if you've not yet had your fill of Australian crowds celebrating wildly and beaming Australian players high-fiving one another senseless in the blazing sun, you will be delighted to hear that the Big Bash League is once again nigh.

This gaudy, celebrity-haunted festival of cricket excess, draped across the middle of the Australian summer like a six-week long Mardi Gras, was, until recently, implicated in the death of Australian cricket, or at least, was on the list of suspects. It was accused of stealing the limelight from the very serious business of Shield cricket and the even more very serious business of Test cricket, through the sneaky ploy of being fun to watch.

Worse still, it was spoiling the techniques of young Australians, just as surely as giving them the keys to a sweet shop would lead to a lamentable decline in their dental standards.

This year, however, the indignant spluttering and chuntering from the press box may be a little muted, given that Aussie journalists are still nursing hangovers from a post-Ashes celebration made possible by an Australian team featuring several Twenty20 graduates.

So what can we expect from BBL 3?

As usual, the official websites will be irredeemable, smeared over with toe-curling team songs, hilariously awful team mottos, and random player-related trivia spewed on to the internet from the fevered brains of marketing drones who have never met a cricket fan.

The commentary will once again be awful, as staid ex-pros force their variously gruff, growly or squeaky voices into new unexplored octaves in their search for that particular pitch of noise that adequately reflects the awesome incredibleness of on-field events.

And the cricket will be a recognisable Twenty20 cocktail: three parts outrageously awful slogging, two parts frantically hilarious fielding to one part breathtaking strokeplay.

It will be as superficial, tackily decorated, extravagant and inconsequential as a 1970s glam rock band on a world tour. It will be fun, in other words, and since there is no rule that says sport can't be fun, we shouldn't be afraid to enjoy it.

But if this is your first Bash, you may be a little confused by all the shouting, the bright lights, the bright shirts and the confusing names, so here's a reasonably misleading guide to some of the wacky franchises who will be entertaining us for the next six weeks:

Adelaide Drop-ins
Innovative cricket team stored in a greenhouse for most of the year, then "dropped in" to the dressing room on match days.

Brisbane Hair
Impressively hirsute heroes. This year sponsored by Hairy Harry's Hair Clipping Clinic, they will be modelling a different style of facial fuzz at each game.

Melbourne Vanity
Expensively-assembled team of Twitter celebrities. Their pre-season training has been focused on catching, throwing, teeth-bleaching, botox, and sunglasses.

Perth Screamers
Abusive reprobates from the wrong side of the country, they employ a team of swearing consultants to provide their trademark pungent put-downs and pithy obscenities.

Sydney Sausages
A team of patriotic Australians who celebrate the culinary tradition of the barbeque by wearing a shade of pink known as "uncooked meat".

Sydney Tofu
Vegetarian alternative for Sydney cricket fans.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here