Usman Khawaja warns BBL must privatise to thrive

"If we're not careful we're going to be left behind"

Usman Khawaja scored fifty off 34 balls  •  Getty Images

Usman Khawaja scored fifty off 34 balls  •  Getty Images

Usman Khawaja has warned Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley that the BBL must move towards private ownership or face being left behind.
The ownership structure of clubs remains a significant issue in the BBL, with both Cricket NSW and Queensland vocal in backing the private ownership move this week.
All eight clubs are currently owned by CA and run by state bodies, despite the debate of privatisation lingering for a decade amid interest from the subcontinent.
IPL clubs have already invested in leagues in the Caribbean, South Africa and UAE, with the Emirates' competition clashing with the BBL and offering more lucrative returns.
The argument is that a similar model would allow the Big Bash to enhance its financial pulling power to players, in a bid to better attract star overseas talent. Khawaja, an Australian Cricketers' Association director, has backed the move.
"I personally think the BBL, if it wants to grow and be fair dinkum about it, we do need to think about privatising it," said Khawaja, speaking at Australia's Test camp in Sri Lanka. "The BBL has been set up as a really good tournament for a long time but I genuinely think that's the next evolution.
"And I've had chats with Nick Hockley about this - I literally chatted to him about it two weeks ago - and I think he's on a very similar page. At some stage CA's got to let go of the reins a little bit.
"If that means doing it over a five-year plan, the ball's got to start rolling sooner rather than later. Because...if we're not careful we're going to be left behind, and you don't want to do that because the BBL is a great product."
CA has long toyed with the idea of privatisation, with the greatest fear being grassroots cricket feeling the pain and clubs being less willing to blood youngsters.
Khawaja's comments came just days after CA introduced an overseas player draft for next year, with top-tier international talent to be paid around $340,000 while not required to stay for the whole tournament.
Khawaja, however, is concerned that the league's salary cap means local players will be paid less, despite being available for the whole tournament.
"You've got lots of great local players who also should be on similar amounts to what the overseas players are, but they can't be because of the salary cap," Khawaja said. "The only way you're going to increase the salary cap is to privatise it.
"Privatisation also brings in a lot of great things from outside, because once there's money at stake for owners, they'll try to do their best to give everything for that franchise.
"Right now it's sort of going and progressing, but I don't think it's innovating as much as it should be as far as the franchises themselves."