England white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan admits he’d be “surprised” if the T20 World Cup in Australia goes ahead as scheduled later this year.
The current Big Bash League finals system needs to change.
Since BBL01, the finals system has been two knockout semi-finals – first vs fourth and second vs third – with the higher-ranked team receiving home advantage. The winners of these two semi-finals then meet in the final.
To play an eight-game season, finish in top place with two or three more wins than fourth (a mid-table placing in a competition of eight teams) and be eliminated straight away – as happened to the Renegades in BBL02 and to the Strikers in BBL04 – leads some to question the purpose of the regular season.
Critics have said the finals structure is unfair to the top team, others said stop complaining and win finals – problem solved.
To address some of these concerns, for BBL03 the team that finished on top of the table after the regular season was awarded one of the two available places at the lucrative Champions League T20 competition.
With the Champions League now gone, the financial value of finishing on top of the table is now also gone.
Using a final-four system outlined below provides a fairer way to determine the best team. It also provides an additional match – sure to be welcomed by broadcasters – adds no extra days to the competition, and spaces the finals and venues nicely to maximise attendance.
Firstly, the BBL05 regular season ends on Monday January 18. This game would need to be shifted to New Year’s Day, creating a double-header (surprisingly, there is not a 4pm and 7pm double-header on New Year’s day already; the BBL should really be looking to ‘own’ this public holiday – free of Test cricket – with a double or even triple header, but that’s another story).
Moving the match on Monday, January 18 would see the regular season end on Saturday, January 16.
The finals structure would be as follows, using this year’s dates (structured as they are around the Australia vs India ODI series on Sunday January 17, Wednesday January 20 and Saturday January 23):
Monday, January 18, Game 1: third v fourth.
Tuesday, January 19, Game 2: first v second.
The winner of Game 2 would win the hosting rights of the BBL final, while the loser would host the winner of Game 1 in a preliminary final.
Friday, January 22, Game 3: loser of Game 2 vs winner of Game 1.
The winner of this match would then meet the winner of Game 2 in the final.
Sunday, January 24, final: winner of Game 2 vs winner of Game 3.
This provides first and second with a ‘double chance’ – they can lose the first match but have a second chance to make it to the final. AFL fans will probably know this as the McIntyre system. This final-four system, and a similar final-five system, have been used in recent seasons of the IPL, so they are not unheard of in T20 cricket.
A final four structured as above would reward the team that finishes on top of the table with a double chance and two home finals whether they win or lose their first.
This system is fairer, and would create an additional game to build toward the final, which at present feels a little rushed. Holding semi-finals on Thursday and Friday and the final on Sunday leaves very little time to build up publicity and media for the biggest match of the tournament. Under this system, the team hosting the BBL final would be known on the Tuesday night, five days before the final.