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Even after seven years the Big Bash still fails to deliver

Tom Harrington Roar Rookie

By Tom Harrington, Tom Harrington is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    I lazed on the couch last Sunday, surfing the TV to find something that would allay my boredom. After much flicking and stirring I settled on the WBBL final.

    There was curiosity in the fixture, which had been bumped down to the primetime of midday – a fascination mostly borne of a lack of familiarity with the female game, the standard of which I quickly found myself pleasantly surprised by.

    What brought the match back into focus after a while was the atmosphere – or the fact that it remained strikingly absent. Due to the scheduling the players sat bathed in an empty Adelaide Oval, an assembly of media and support staff making up most of those in attendance.

    Also gracing the stands was the troupe of dancers that seemed to follow the competition around the country, a form of entertainment that no-one asked for. It was an odd sight to see these performers deliver their act to an empty arena, and it was what reminded why I’ve never taken to this form of the game.

    This disaffection for the shortest version of cricket is nothing new. It is a format that has always failed to capture my imagination, like a shirt that has never felt snug or comfortable. Perhaps the feeling is derived from the initial offerings of this revolution when the triviality of the game was on full display.

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    I came across this just the other night during the rain delay between New Zealand and Australia, when Channel Nine showed old vision of a primitive version of the format. It was a match against the English in which the Australians were decked out in that horrid all-grey jersey with nicknames like ‘Punter’ and ‘Church’ on the back.

    Those with an earpiece to the commentary joked about which direction they would pummel the next delivery. It was a while ago now and not many would have predicted the extent to which T20 has grown into its own entity, but that feeling of joviality always remained with me – a sense that this interpretation of cricket didn’t matter and that there was no point giving it my full attention.

    It contrasts with Test cricket, which has always held this air of authenticity. There is a sense with each Test match that, no matter the context, something worthwhile hinges on the result. That even no result carries a weight of significance because at least there is an acknowledgement that those entwined in the contest have toiled for five days, their skill and application continually examined.

    There is always a constant battle between bat and ball taking place, a determination of willpower and patience that provides far more excitement and fascination than a batsman constantly flaying his bat at each delivery hoping that it will somehow find its way to the boundary.

    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    The recent contest between India and South Africa, for instance, where ball continually bettered bat on a series of tortuous pitches, brought as much excitement to me as cricket can possibly provide.

    Of course the benefits that T20 have brought to cricket are hard to ignore. It has clearly delivered a new and younger audience to the sport. Cricket has existed in a state of life support in certain parts of the world at times, but T20 has helped to rectify that, albeit at the expense of the traditional format.

    It is riveting at times to see Glenn Maxwell whack the ball back over the bowler’s head or a team chasing 20 runs off the last over. Its prime focus is entertainment, and it does a terrific job of meeting that brief.

    But I can count on one hand the times I sat this season and watched the BBL for more than 20 minutes, and never once did I feel engaged with what was taking place. Mostly the fixtures remain finite in our memory. There is always another game waiting the next night, or an ODI or a tennis match, and many fans would not be able to tell you who had won the night before.

    There were many players who performed strongly in this summer’s rendition – such as a D’Arcy Short, who made countless runs – but unlike the recent Ashes success, many will promptly forget such feats.

    I wasn’t drawn to watching the final and I wasn’t all that interested in who won. As Adelaide held the cup aloft and Jake Weatherald made what I’m sure was a wonderful hundred, I was watching repeats of Married at First Sight with my girlfriend, unperturbed by the absurdity of it all.

    There may be joy or disappointment still lingering from their side’s performance for those invested in its theatre, but for most the end of this campaign will represent the end of another offering of sport within our crowded sporting schedule, another competition that appears and then suddenly disappears in a flash.

    I wonder if in a month’s time anyone will remember who won the whole thing at all.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • February 12th 2018 @ 6:12am
      Sword said | February 12th 2018 @ 6:12am | ! Report

      Hang on a second, so instead of watching the BBL final you were watching repeats of Married at First Sight instead of the BBL final then write an article bagging it, you sound like a teenage schoolgirl voicing a negative opinion over something you have a problem with and clearly know little about, I hope you aren’t pursuing a career in this industry cause that is pathetic journalism.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 7:44am
        Mark said | February 12th 2018 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        Careful, careful. Go ahead and bag the article – this is an opinion site after all. But I don’t think this is the place to say who should and shouldn’t pursue a journalism career. For all we know this Tom fellow is 15 years old. I’m sure Gideon Haigh’s initial forays weren’t all top drawer- BUT he probably had people either neutral or supportive. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb first time . . .

        • February 12th 2018 @ 9:47am
          beepee said | February 12th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          Nicely said, Mark!

        • February 12th 2018 @ 9:49am
          Pedro The Fisherman said | February 12th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          Sword has a right to call rubbish for what it is … rubbish!
          Many of today’s problems have stemmed from too many All Played Well Participation Awards.
          Perhaps 15 year old Mark should look for a different career?

          • February 12th 2018 @ 11:54am
            matth said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

            I’m sure you were the finished article at 15 Pedro. Particularly since you got the name of the author wrong in your comment. How about you write an article and see how you go.

          • February 12th 2018 @ 8:03pm
            Mark said | February 12th 2018 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

            Haha, we never really know who is behind the screen on the other side do we . . .

        • February 12th 2018 @ 11:52am
          matth said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          I agree with you Mark. One person’s rubbish is fine to another, maybe depending on whether you agree with the point of view. Keep writing Tom, it was not as bad as all that and no one’s first article is ever their best. My first was a pretty damn average effort, I can tell you.

        • February 12th 2018 @ 4:18pm
          Patrick Moran said | February 12th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          I totally agree Mark.

          Personally I can relate to a lot of what you have said Tom. I quite enjoy the BBL for entertainment, but am relatively unfazed by the results, and I thought your article expressed this well. I certainly didn’t forego watching the final, but I still see what you mean. Given the popularity of T20 cricket it may not be a view held my the majority, although a number of people here seem to agree with your perspective. Ultimately its a hard thing to argue for or against, as it really comes down to personal enjoyment. Ignore those criticising you, because personally I found the article quite relatable.

    • February 12th 2018 @ 7:29am
      concerned supporter said | February 12th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Tom,
      I agree with some of what you say, but you and Michael Clarke lost me over rubbish “Married at First Sight”.
      What about Ch 9 programs about criminals like Chopper Read ?Thank goodness for SBS & ABC, and Foxtel.Channel 9 appeals to airheads & teen age girls.

    • February 12th 2018 @ 8:00am
      sheek said | February 12th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      Christina Applegate is/was very easy on the eye! She was 15 to 25 years old when the show ran 1987-97.

      Anyway, BBL is all about money. Nothing altruistic about it at all.

      Once upon a time sport was meant to mean something. Now it’s just a cash register.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 10:19am
        spruce moose said | February 12th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        Alas, Applegate isn’t on Married at First Sight. She was on Married with Children.

    • Roar Guru

      February 12th 2018 @ 8:22am
      Atawhai Drive said | February 12th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      As a cricket-themed entertainment package, the BBL can work quite well _ on television and in the flesh.

      T20 players are paid quite well, extremely well in the case of the IPL, and are obliged to take it seriously. Fans less so.

      I watched the BBL final off and on, focusing closely as it reached its climax. Only when the game was over did it dawn on me that the Strikers are an Adelaide team and not from Melbourne. Peter Siddle’s presence confused me.

      Clearly I have some way to go as a BBL spectator.

      • Roar Guru

        February 12th 2018 @ 2:19pm
        Mango Jack said | February 12th 2018 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

        If Peter Siddle’s presence confused you, AD, you would have been stunned to watch the Renegades and learn that Brad Hogg was still playing!

    • Roar Guru

      February 12th 2018 @ 8:33am
      The Bush said | February 12th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      You watched MAFS over cricket? Any version of cricket, and I mean even U10s?

      And then you took the time, presumably at least 30 odd minutes, to write an article about something that you have so little interest in you didn’t even watch it?

      I agree that having the players wear microphones continues to make it seem like a gimmick, but as far as I’m aware, we’re the only place that does this? No English or Kiwi players have been miked up during the Tri Series, at least that I can see. This oddity will pass eventually.

      It’s also hard to take the internationals seriously when the commentary team either a) knows nothing about T20 cricket or b) doesn’t treat it seriously themselves. Again, this will pass in time.

      I wasn’t alive to see it, but I’m sure when WSC introduced white balls, night cricket and coloured clothing people thought it would be a gimmicky flash-in-the-pan thing.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 9:29am
        AGordon said | February 12th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        You’re right about the WSC thing, I was around for this and it was seen as a gimmick for sure, until CA or the equivalent at the time, started to take it seriously. The difference is the level of “gimmick” with BBL; loud music, miked up players, etc, take this out of the realms of cricket and into sports entertainment – great to watch but of no real importance.

        • February 12th 2018 @ 9:52am
          Brian said | February 12th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          Interesting comment about WSC because in many ways ODI cricket is redundant.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:28am
        Bilbo said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        I was watching then WSC started but did join in around the late 80s.

        It was different to T20 and taken a lot, lot, more seriously by players and fans. Players were keen to play in each and every game and you had pretty much the Australian test team playing. Players wouldn’t rest or sit out a series.

        Fast forward to today and you have a bunch of randoms in the Australian team, a BBL all stars squad, is it then any surprise that you aren’t getting massive crowds. No.

        • February 12th 2018 @ 11:41am
          matth said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          The crowds are not too bad. Remember that ticket prices for the internationals are more than double the BBL. That can hurt.

        • Roar Guru

          February 12th 2018 @ 12:48pm
          The Bush said | February 12th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          But were the players just keen to play WSC because that was what paid the bills?

          The players seem very keen and available to play IPL every year…

        • Roar Guru

          February 12th 2018 @ 2:21pm
          Mango Jack said | February 12th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          It was hard to take the Windies seriously when they wore those appalling pink outfits.

    • February 12th 2018 @ 10:15am
      BrainsTrust said | February 12th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

      The beenfits of T20 have been to the BCI and the players pay packetswho play in it.
      Australia actually hasn;t got the pay off at all they have just invested about half a billion on the Big Bash and still losing money.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:10am
        matth said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Cricket Australia gets 20% of each Australian’s contract in the IPL.

        The BBL was a start up and was budgeted to lose money initially, as CA wanted it on free to air. the next TV rights deal, starting next season, may well start to be a pay off for this, although we will have to wait and see.

        • February 12th 2018 @ 3:40pm
          Tommo said | February 12th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          That is the first I’ve heard of that about CA getting 20% of a contracted players’ contract in IPL.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 12:10pm
            Matt H said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            All overseas boards get this kick back to allow their players to compete.

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