The Australian domestic Twenty20 competition, the Big Bash League, moved a step closer to its new and revamped avatar, with eight new sides announcing fresh and innovative team names and colours for the 2011 season which gets underway in December. The competition will feature sides based out of the main grounds in the capitals of each of the six Australian states. Melbourne and Sydney will house an extra team each at the Etihad Stadium, and the Sydney Olympic Park respectively.
Cricket Australia's Mike McKenna said the confirmation of team names was an important milestone in the league's development. "Completing the process of developing team names is the first step in explaining to fans what the BBL will look like when teams take the field for the first time in December this year," he said. "A lot has been achieved in a short space of time. While team names, colours and venues have been resolved, work is continuing on a number of other important features of the league, including team logos and uniform development, the competition match schedule, team and BBL operating structures, and the appointment of key personnel by teams.
"The move to city, not state, names is a change from traditional Australian cricket. However in order to grow the game we need to move away from the existing state-based structure because we can't increase the number of teams, and provide more opportunities for players, under the current system which is the core of our four-day and one-day cricket. It's necessary we take this approach now so that BBL can help grow the game and evolve domestic T20 in Australia.
"No-one's underestimating the mountain of work that still needs to be completed before the tournament starts, including issues surrounding player allocation and private investment.
"It's critical we get the issue of private investment right before we roll out this new competition. We've got a meeting with all key parties from CA and the state associations scheduled which will look to finalise this issue and allow teams to continue discussions with potential investors."
In addition to the migration from a state to city-based franchise model, the BBL will also allow private ownership of the teams, though the modalities of investment are yet to be worked out. Despite the entry of private parties, state cricket associations are expected to retain a controlling stake, which is in contrast to the IPL, the biggest and most successful Twenty20 league. McKenna hinted that the focus of allocation will be on creating teams that are evenly matched.
"As far as the allocation of players is concerned, we've come a long way towards working out the model by which players will be signed by teams," he said. "We've been clear from the outset that we want an even spread of talent to give each team a chance to be successful."