Big Bash League must change before expanding

Shane Jones Roar Guru

By Shane Jones, Shane Jones is a Roar Guru

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    This year’s Big Bash League has revealed two major flaws which both need to be solved in order to see the format of the game survive into the future.

    The first is the dwindling crowds, while the second is the depth of the eight teams, which have been severely stretched from Test matches and the many injuries to players.

    If Cricket Australia is serious about future expansion of the competition from eight to 10 teams, even 12 teams, these problems need to be solved before this is made reality.

    As was shown in the A-League, if the proper considerations aren’t made, the game will ultimately suffer.

    Only this year – after multiple attempts – is the A-League finally benefitting from the addition of a new team. Western Sydney Wanderers has seen the creation of the Sydney derby, helping to build the league into one of the country’s sporting showpieces.

    The problem Cricket Australia has with the BBL is that with Test players out and international players also on duty, it creates a depth gap which has been shown this season by the Sydney Thunder.

    Currently on an 11-game losing streak, the Thunder has eight players under the age of 22. While this is a fantastic experience for most of them, the team has been completely outplayed in each of their five matches, highlighting the depth gap between the top and the bottom.

    It has also been shown in their crowds, with an average of 6,708 people for their home games in a ground which can hold 83,000 people. It’s hardly a great advertisement for the game – a stadium only eight percent full.

    As the competition has eight teams and every other cricket competition in Australia has six – except for the Futures League, which has seven – the talent pool is stretched, particularly when players are in the Test squad.

    If Cricket Australia is serious about expansion then this is an area that needs to be solved. Stretching the squads around both Tests and this competition is already having an effect; the increase to 10 teams would be catastrophic.

    The other problem the competition faces is the setting up of a new team will not be based around a cricketing state.

    Each current team is owned or in some way influenced by its state body. The introduction of a new team in the proposed locations for expansion would not be.

    This creates a situation where the new club would have all of their players coming from outside the area, which would make the team struggle for an out-and-out superstar who would bring people through the turnstiles.

    They would have to look overseas for that player and that comes with dangers, particularly if the player fails to shine on the stage, much like Chris Gayle for the Thunder.

    This wouldn’t be a problem if the team was based in Canberra but unfortunately we only have to look at the Canberra Comets in the old one day cup to see how successful a team from the nation’s capital went.

    So what’s the solution to the problem?

    Well to me, the BBL needs to find a time when Test cricket and international cricketers are available. It also needs to be at a time where Test cricket, ODI and Twenty20 cricket in Australia isn’t occurring.

    My answer to this is the start of the Australian cricket season.

    By starting the season with the BBL, it will get the competition finished before the Test series and make those players available for the competition.

    This would also increase the audiences at the game and make the television rights more attractive for free-to-air (FTA) networks.

    Tests at the MCG, the SCG and Hobart during this season have had a visible effect on the crowds for the BBL, with the average well down on last year.

    By moving it to a designated spot away from the other forms, it would increase the audiences and create interest from FTA networks, as it would be the only form of cricket on at the time.

    This would also free players from Australia and overseas, as there are limited international series on at the time.

    The only problem with all of this is the Twenty20 Champions League, which this year was held in October. If that happens again, it would ruin the prospect of holding it in September-October.

    However, the Champions League has been held in early September before and with negotiations it could be moved to an August-September date, paving the way for an early Big Bash League season.

    The possibility of moving it after the Test series is another option but that could create headaches for the T20 internationals and One Day International matches in Australia.

    One thing is for certain though; changes are needed before expansion is thought of, because if it isn’t then the new teams will be in trouble before they even start.

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    The Crowd Says (54)

    • December 31st 2012 @ 8:24am
      Christi the Daddyo said | December 31st 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Ive suggested this in other threads and I’ll say it again…

      Oct-Dec: Sheffield Shield
      Nov-early Jan: Tests
      Late Dec – late Jan: BBL

      • Columnist

        December 31st 2012 @ 9:30am
        Brett McKay said | December 31st 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Christo, add in a Feb-Mar resumption for the Shield and Ryobi Cups, and you’ve pretty much got the current schedule..

    • Roar Guru

      December 31st 2012 @ 8:27am
      sheek said | December 31st 2012 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      You make some sense here, even if your moniker doesn’t!

      There isn’t much logic (apart from trying to make money) from CA’s decision to have both tests & BBL during the December-January period. How do leading players prepare for test duty without Sheffield Shield matches?

      Starting the season with the BBL is good sense to me. And having all the best players available also makes sense. No competition can thrive without its best players.

      The Sheffield Shield has suffered for a long time now because its leading players are seen too infrequently, if not at all, in the comp. The one-off Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) is another example of what happens when the best players are quarantined.

      Interestingly, the English Counties are returning to a system in 2014 whereby T20 & One Dayers (50 overs) will be played on Fridays with County matches running from Sunday through Wednesday. This could work in Australia as well.

      One idea that appeals to me is to start the season with T20, then have the One dayers & Shield running concurrently through the season. It would work even better if Shield matches were changed from 4 x 6 hour days to 3 x 7 hour day/nights.

      One Dayers would be played on Wednesdays, followed by Shield matches on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Teams then have a two-day lay-off for rest & travel before starting the week again the following Wednesday.

      I would also actually expand the various cricket teams from six to eight & possibly 10, for all three forms. Get rid of the garish, totally inappropriate BBL teams, nicknames & colours.

      At the risk of offending some, we need to move to a city/region based comp. But the tradition & history remains. NSW Blues becomes Sydney Blues, Victoria Bushrangers becomes Melbourne Bushrangers & so on. However, Tasmania Tigers would remain the same so as not to offend the northern applelanders.

      Sydney & Melbourne can each have a second team, while we need to introduce teams from Newcastle & Canberra. Newcastle especially, has a very proud history in cricket when they played touring teams under the banner of Northern NSW.

      The reason for expansion is to give more players an opportunity for a professional contract & to prevent them drifting to other sports, especially Australian football.

      A suggestion for 10 Australian cricket franchises is as follows:

      Sydney Blues

      West Sydney Emus

      Melbourne Bushrangers

      East Melbourne Axemen

      Adelaide Redbacks

      Perth Warriors

      Brisbane Bulls

      Newcastle Kookaburras

      Canberra Comets

      Tasmania Tigers

      • Roar Rookie

        December 31st 2012 @ 9:51am
        ojg1997 said | December 31st 2012 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        That would be the most stupidst thing to change their names to the Adelaide Redbacks, Mekbourne Bushrangers etc. So then if someone asked me who I go for in cricket I would say the Adelaide Redbacks and South Australia Redbacks I would look a little silly. Also if your going to call a team the Adelaide Redbacks you migh aswell keep the South Australia Redbacks in the Big Bash. Get over it there not going to change the names and colours. When they created the BBL they didn’t want the city based teams having their traditional state colours. Although I think they should change the Sydney Thunder’s name to the Western Sydney Thunder and East Sydney Sixers.

        • December 31st 2012 @ 10:15am
          Matt F said | December 31st 2012 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          I wouldn’t change the Sixers to East Sydney but I would change the Thunder to Wester Sydney. The Sixers, like the Swans and Sydney FC also represent the North and parts of the South by default so it wouldn’t be smart to restrict them to “East” only. West Sydney makes sense given the size of the area and that there does seem to be a bit of a “west vs the rest” divide in Sydney. I have no idea why they didn’t call themselves West Sydney Thunder from the start.

        • December 31st 2012 @ 10:49am
          mahonjt said | December 31st 2012 @ 10:49am | ! Report

          This city name obsession against the history of crickey in thsi country is madness. The related “derby” and “league model” obsession against the history of cricket in this country is madness also. Leave the fooball traditions to football and get on building on the strengths of cricket’s history (you know, like you were doing before) and take a hit on the TV deal while you are at it – bacause ultimately for cricket to survive it cant think it is football and it needs to see the BBL as a develiopmental patyway to success in the closely related game of cricket.

        • Roar Guru

          December 31st 2012 @ 1:53pm
          sheek said | December 31st 2012 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

          ojg whatever,

          I’ve had an extremely frustrating day & if I could reach through the computer, I would strangle some sense & manners into you.

          Your combined ignorance & arrogance is appalling.

          • Roar Guru

            December 31st 2012 @ 2:32pm
            sheek said | December 31st 2012 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            While the steam is still coming out, I’ll elaborate.

            The whole point of changing from states to cities is to “allow” Sydney & Melbourne to introduce a second city-based team. You can’t do that if they still states. It’s also designed, as mentioned, to create more professional positions for more players.

            There will be no doubling up of names. Each team will have the same name, nickname & colours across all three formats, or two, or however many survive into the future. So Adelaide Redbacks would play in Sheffield Shield, Ryobi Cup & BBL. Or whatever.

            Ditto Sydney Blues, Melbourne Bushrangers, etc.

            Don’t give me this rubbish you can’t transfer the name of the Redbacks from SA to Adelaide. Every city is full of redbacks. They don’t just exist in the country areas, for example.

            The Melbourne super rugby team calls itself the Rebels, yet the origin of the “rebels” (goldminers) of the Eureka stockade occurred in the goldfields around Ballarat, not Melbourne suburbia. Victoria Rebels would be more appropriate, but in any case Rebels is Victoria based & therefore Melbourne appropriate.

            The transfer of nicknames & colours is seamless. The history & tradition remains. This is the KEY point – the history & tradition is still carried on.

            Q – Where does the SA Redbacks play their home matches? A – “Adelaide” Oval.

            Q – Where are the SA players selected from? A – “Adelaide” District Comp.

            Q- Where does the NSW Blues play their home matches? A – “Sydney” Cricket Ground.

            Q – Where are the NSW players chosen from? A – “Sydney” District Comp.

            Q – Where does the Victoria Bushrangers play their home matches? A – “Melbourne” Cricket Ground.

            Q – Where are the Vic players chosen from? A – “Melbourne” District comp.

            Q – Where does the WA Warriors play their home matches? A – WACA Oval in “Perth.”

            Q – Where are the WA players chosen from? A – “Perth” District Comp.

            Q – Where does the Queensland Bulls play their home matches? A – Gabba Ground in “Brisbane.”

            Q – Where are the Qld players chosen from? A – “Brisbane” District Comp.

            No-one advocates history & tradition more than me. This slight change allows the game to expand without significantly affecting its past.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 1st 2013 @ 10:22am
            ojg1997 said | January 1st 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

            Strangle some sense and manners? Are you alright?

            • Roar Guru

              January 1st 2013 @ 5:48pm
              sheek said | January 1st 2013 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

              orj,

              Better now thanks, but before…..

      • Roar Guru

        January 1st 2013 @ 9:47am
        Andy_Roo said | January 1st 2013 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Sheek,
        I wonder if constantly changing from county format to One-Day or T20 format will upset the players form and consitency, both batsmen and bowlers. I prefer the idea of seperating the formats.

        • Roar Guru

          January 1st 2013 @ 5:47pm
          sheek said | January 1st 2013 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

          Hi Andy_Roo,

          I wouldn’t think so. For a long time in the past, it was considered okay to play a one day match either prior to, or after a Shield match.

          I’ve never seen the evidence to suggest it is unworkable.

    • December 31st 2012 @ 8:46am
      Sailosi said | December 31st 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      The biggest problem facing new sporting leagues in Australia such as the BBL and A-League and to a certain extent new super rugby sides is the fact that people have something to compare it to. Either other competitions around the world, which in the case of the A-League is unfair or the competitions previous structure, therefore expansion will always be viewed as lessening the quality or poor performing sides show a lack of depth. In reality the AFL and NRL are of a pretty ordinary standard with many average athletes getting paid to compete. It is hard to criticise however because we have nothing to compare them to or they have been multiple team competitions for a long time and that is the standard to accept. We have never seen a 6 team AFL or NRL comp so we don’t know how good they were. If the Big Bash League decided eight years ago to begin with an 18 team comp people would have accepted that that was the level of play, but because it only began with 6 teams, that set the standard and further expansion will always be seen as a weakening of the competition. Nobody can tell me that the 300th best AFL player in Australia is a more talented footballer than the 70th best cricketer is a cricketer.

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      • December 31st 2012 @ 10:59am
        mahonjt said | December 31st 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        The A-League standard is rising, and rising fast and many, man credible and independent persons are saying so – including a few very famous cricket media writers. The A-League have archived this even through a difficult expansion phase and will do it again as they go to 12 and finally 14 teams over the next 4 – 8 years (two media cycles). How, because the labour market for football (and to a lesser extent cricket is huge ANY competitive unlike the NRL and AFL. The trick is getting the balance right in regulating this market. The A-League has worked hard on this and is now showing the benefits of being a smart recruiter in a global context – BBL could do the same, but it will always have the problem that it’s a very, very short tournament and the ability to build long term relationships between fans and rosters (i.e. a deep, ongoing and sustainable ‘culture’ and narrative) is equally limited. I say #pickasrategy. Become a “league” of sorts with a massive extension of the season to 6 months, or if this is not tenable, don’t even try in a half-assed way as CA are now doing. Accept and embrace cricket’s history in this county and create a tournament based upon that history – you know, like the way you were doing before? The problem is CA will need to take a hit in the pocket and they are on ‘crack’ cash right now……

    • December 31st 2012 @ 9:01am
      Matt F said | December 31st 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      21k last night, despite both teams being at the bottom of the ladder, isn’t too bad. It’s slightly more than NSW got in the last state-based BBL. The competition has definitely taken a hit this season but crowds seem to be improving now that we’ve hit Christmas.

      I agree with Christo. Start the BBL around Christmas time, maybe a week before, and have it end around Australia Day. Perhaps you could have the finals in early February as they’d be on weekends. That’s when the crowds are willing to go in good numbers and it’s also late enough in the season so that the test team is settled and, with the last two tests (melbourne and sydney) so close together, there wouldn’t be time for Shield matches anyway and potential test candidates would have already had around 7 Shield matches to press their claims.

      I suppose the biggest problem there is that would be up against almost the entire international ODI season and, unlike test matches which are played during the day, the day-night matches would directly compate with the BBL matches.

      • Columnist

        December 31st 2012 @ 9:33am
        Brett McKay said | December 31st 2012 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        Again though Matt, this year’s BBL started 7 Dec and will end 19 Jan. Your plan really only moves it by a week or so..

        • December 31st 2012 @ 9:41am
          Matt F said | December 31st 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          It’s still a pretty important week though. One week closer to xmas and school holidays kick in from mid-December. School was still in on the 7th. Mid-week games need the holdiay pariod. You could move it back to a Boxing Day-ish start and have the finals in early February, though again that runs into the new school year. Games would have to played on weekends from late january onwards which means they’d probably have to be the finals.

          • Columnist

            December 31st 2012 @ 10:18am
            Brett McKay said | December 31st 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

            The issue there though is that it would canabalise the ODIs, and that can’t happen from a cricket or broadcast perspective.

            As it is this year, the BBL semis will be Jan 15/16, and the Final is Jan 19.

            The ODIs v SL are in and around the BBL semis and Final (no clashes), and the T20I is on Australia Day. The Windies games are after that.

            Given that the ODIs will be over by mid-Feb, at which time Nine will be heading into their NRL comittments, I can’t see too much changing schedule-wise..

            • December 31st 2012 @ 10:42am
              Matt F said | December 31st 2012 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              That’s the real issue and one I breifly mentioned in my first post. The BBL would ideally fit in from xmas-early February but it conflicts with the ODI’s. The Test matches, aside from th WACA test (though that’s normally early in the season) are all finished by 6-6:30 EDST and the BBL matches don’t start until 7-7:30 so they fit together well TV wise. The night session of the ODI’s would be directly up against BBL matches. My draw was sort of an ideal world scenario, rather than one with commercial reality. Perhaps they could arrange it so that they have an ODI on day then BBL matches the next two days before having another ODI?

              Another problem with starting the BBL later is that the best T20 players are more likely to be in the Australian ODI and T20 sides than the Test side, so putting it up against ODI’s and International T20’s would rob the BBL of it’s best T20 players, or more than it does now at least.

              Realistically the BBL either has to be held when it is or has to start in early November which would mean that players would play no Shield matches (maybe one or two in October if they haven’t made the T20 champions league) before the first test match which is, in my opinion, a much worse alternative than the current schedule.

              A very left-field solution would be to rearrange the whole international summer. Start the summer with the T20’s and ODI’s (late October/early November to mid December) and have the first test either on Boxing Day or a week or so before hand and ending in Adelaide on Ausralia Day. That way you can have the BBL later as it wouldn’t clash with ODI’s. This would be a serious change though and not one that I would seriously recommend. I’m just throwing out a potential option.

    • Roar Guru

      December 31st 2012 @ 9:53am
      TheGenuineTailender said | December 31st 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      The BBL needs to be played during summer school holidays. That’s why week night games can work. We should be seeing the BBL run throughout January. When the ODIs are being players, players would be more likely to be released between games to represent their BBL franchises.

    • Roar Pro

      December 31st 2012 @ 10:25am
      Adam Ludeke said | December 31st 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      The scheduling issue will be simpler once ODIs are scrapped, and that’s only a matter of time IMHO.

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