Restructuring the Australian cricket season
It’s another summer of love and the Big Bash League’s slide, the absence of Test match fans in Hobart and the Boxing Day fizzer/extended one-dayer are all major talking points.
I would suggest the thing holding cricket in Australia back the most is itself. There’s a long history of eating the right arm in order to grow the left arm.
So with that in mind, here’s a few scheduling proposals they should consider:
State competition – first-class
Get rid of the split and butchered Sheffield Shield comp and run it as a double round-robin over 11 weekends from the October to mid-December.
International Tests would coincide with rounds five, seven and nine, which restores the state comp to proper selection status and gives players continuity of competition.
State competition – limited overs
In the second half of the season, run a double-round robin 50 overs comp from the week after the Sheffield Shield final in mid-December through to the end of February.
Matches would be played on Saturdays in normally deprived country and regional areas (remember they’re state teams, not metro teams!) This makes the state competition a proper feeder for Big Bash and internationals, rather than have players scrounge around for a match at local club level.
Note: if Cricket Australia feels more state T20 matches would benefit the overall game, then the 11 week window could be half T20 and half 50 over games played concurrently in the same window.
International – Test matches
Scrap the Hobart Test. With T20 and One-Dayers that’s more than enough to cover the Tasmanian market.
Have a five Test match window starting from the first weekend of November through to the Boxing Day match. In between every game there would be a weekend off. The season can be allotted as a split of three Tests against one nation, two against another or a full five match series, going Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and finally Melbourne.
International – T20 matches
Play these on the spare weekends between Test matches utilising the two touring teams. You could structure six international T20 matches in November and December with each team playing double round robin (so four Australian T20 games).
In a three team series I don’t think you need a final match.
International – 50 overs matches
With January and February now freed of other international commitments, there’s room to restructure the 50 overs competition. This year’s system – two five match series – is a total joke. It’s just too much and too meaningless.
I propose the series be restructured into a four team double round robin, comprised permanently of Australia and New Zealand plus two other touring teams. This would finally capitalise on the cross-Tasman rivalry, with a permanent game on both Australia Day and Waitangi Day.
The 13 games series (including final) would featuring six games that target the Australian market, an extra four that target New Zealand plus two others involving the touring sides, followed by the final. The games would be played over six weeks, with most games on Sundays (except for the holiday games) so that both sessions are covered.
T20 franchise league
It’s probably easier to break this one down into key points:
1. Don’t axe it, but don’t saturate an already saturated season – we need a short form club version of the game
2. Restructure the game play – introduce split innings. Once a batting team reaches the 10th over or five wickets fall (whichever comes first), teams swap over. This creates four mini-sessions and allows teams to change strategy and make up for weak attacking/defensive performances almost immediately. It’s no longer just a simple chase-down.
3. Once the format has stabilised, introduce a Canberra and Newcastle team. These two centres are deprived of first class cricket.
4. Split the league into two five-team conferences: South (Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne[s]) and North (Canberra, Newcastle, Brisbane, Sydney[s]).
5. Use a single-round robin format with one additional rivalry round (so 10 weeks, five home games each, with three weeks of finals). This creates a 55 game season.
6. Use a top six finals format with week one comprising three versus six, four versus five. The two conference winners would be introduced in week two, following a week one bye as reward for topping their table, and a week three grand final.
7. Run the competition from the week before the Boxing Day Test through to the end of February, broadcast on free-to-air with two matches on each day so that games are targeted to either their local northern or southern market.
8. Finally, rename it as a serious tournament: Australian Cricket League (ACL)
What do you think Roarers? How would you restructure the cricket season?