Dan Christian: 'T20 is the key to ensuring other formats survive'
The allrounder's career came to a close with Sydney Sixers' Challenger final defeat at the SCG
When it comes to T20 cricket, Dan Christian has been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the trophies. As his career came to a close with Sydney Sixers defeat at the SCG on Thursday, he perhaps unsurprisingly left the game extolling the virtues of the format, and believes that what appears to be the unstoppable growth of T20 is the key to other parts of the game surviving.
Christian ended with 409 T20 matches, currently the ninth-most ever, and nine trophies in the cabinet with success in England, the Caribbean and South Africa along with Australia. This year's BBL, which has been a resurgent one for the competition, overlapped in part with the new leagues in South Africa and the UAE plus the Bangladesh Premier League.
The BBL will actually be trimmed back, and perhaps as soon as next season if things can move fast enough, with a reduced 43-game tournament part of the new broadcast deal, but overall the amount of domestic T20 around the world is only likely to go one way.
"I don't think we are really overloading it," Christian said. "And I'm saying that based on how many people watch it on TV, [and] the crowd in Perth the other day was unbelievable and it will be a sellout in the grand final.
"I understand there are plenty of competitions going on around the world but the reason there are plenty of competitions is that people want to watch them, be that at home on the couch or going through the gates.
"Think the T20 game is the key to ensuring the other formats survive, it's encouraging new people to come through the gates and new people to take the game up."
The format was barely out of nappies when Christian played his first T20 game in 2006 so he has witnessed the game's evolution at first hand. He feels the biggest change is now the level of planning which goes into every moment of a match.
"When it first started it was a bit Mickey Mouse, no one knew how to really play it, [it was] just an abbreviated one-day game but now all 240 balls are really well planned," he said. "More often than not it's one really good over that will win or lose the game whereas in the other formats you have plenty of time to make up for those good or bad overs. In T20, everyone is so precise now, the bowling is so precise and the batting is so good, you can't miss or guys just hit it for six."
Christian, who was also capped 43 times by Australia and picked out his debut at the SCG as a career high point, had decided a little while out that this would be his final season having ended a long association with Nottinghamshire during the last English summer. There was no fairytale end, and the chance of a 10th title, as Heat took out a low-scoring scrap on a difficult SCG pitch.
Coaching is a likely future path for Christian who had a taste of it during the men's T20 World Cup in Australia earlier in the season when he worked with Netherlands.
"I've been in the game so long, definitely not lining up to do a 9 to 5 job," he joked. "I'll probably put my hand up and try and get a gig somewhere.
"I've really enjoyed being an older player and being able to help the younger guys in whatever way shape or form that I can, be it with tactics or with any kind of experience that I've had. I suppose coaching's the exact same thing without the pressure of having to perform on the field."
Moises Henriques, Sixers' captain, praised Christian as the ultimate team man who always wanted to be involved in critical moments of a match.
"He's always been a pleasure to play with. As a captain, he's one of those guys who always wants to bat and always wants to bowl," he said. "No matter where we are in the game he's coming up and giving me a nudge on the shoulder. They are the type of guys you love having in your team because they are up for the contest.
"I just hope he enjoys the next chapter of his life and doesn't try to force it too quickly. He's been playing cricket for a long time so hopefully for him it's six months of golf somewhere, and just enjoy that, get his handicap even lower and then he can worry about working after that."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo