Cricket is trapped in no man’s land

Andrew Young Roar Pro

By Andrew Young, Andrew Young is a Roar Pro

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    Sam Heazlett of the Heat plays a shot during the Big Bash League (BBL) T20 match between the Melbourne Stars and and the Brisbane Heat at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (AAP Image/David Crosling)

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    Growing disillusionment with the state of Australian cricket has seen whispers of discontent turn to cries of “a chronic problem” and a “lack of direction” from the media, fans and everyone in between.

    It seems we all know the problem – the selectors – but are unable to find the answers. Cameron White synthesised it as “the search for the one” and how this is hurting the game- that it has robbed the Sheffield Shield of its prestige as a proving ground.

    Can the selectors really be blamed entirely? Not that I am a sycophant of Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell, I love to disagree with their decisions – it’s a prerequisite to be a cricket lover in this country – but to me, our problem is deeper than the XI players picked to don the baggy green.

    It lies with the scheduling and pervasive nature of television. The game is being used as a route to keep filling already deep pockets.

    With so much elite-level cricket clogging up the calendar from November to early March, it seems that no longer is the baggy green quite the pinnacle it once was. For the Big Bash to dominate our screens for over a month over the school holiday/Christmas period, culminating in 92 matches across the BBL/WBBL in the 2016-17 season, this is what young people see and aspire to be.

    In Victoria, the teams in the underage State Championships are divided into “Stars” or “Renegades”, with the logos found on playing shirts and warm up kit.

    Combined with this is a disjointed summer of international cricket. I’m not sure anyone could explain the point of the three-match One Day series against New Zealand between the South-African and Pakistan Test series.

    As fans we become so swept up in the jam-packed calendar that matches are losing their significance; we lose perspective and it would be easy to see the players doing the same. To miss out one day means little as they can turn around in a matter of days and go again, in a different format, for a different team, in a different place.

    We are caught in a whirlwind, and it couldn’t really be highlighted better than the series underway at the moment against Sri Lanka – dubbed the ‘who cares cup’ by former international, Stuart Clark, it falls perfectly into the category of meaningless cricket.

    We live in an era where television rights are worth more than the cricket they cover. It is imperative that we don’t lose sight of the game we love, in favour of money-making exploits and a stream of never-ending senseless short form cricket.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • February 23rd 2017 @ 2:34am
      tommyh said | February 23rd 2017 @ 2:34am | ! Report

      could not agree more. There was a time though before all this 20/20 nonsense where the players did not get paid enough money and not as many people were watching etc. so beware what we wish for on that front i guess some might say. 20/20 cricket is simply nit cricket to me though. Even by todays high standards there is still alot of luck involved on any given match. If you compared it to soccer, it would be like playing a version of the game of two 5 minute halves. Yeah the class would not always neccesarily show through.

      I dont like all this negative fast food/processed food advertising either to be honest. A new fashion of everyone walking round with multiple KFC buckets on their heads looks shocking to me. And obviously kids thinking KFC food is good is the real crime here !

      Maybe all this 20/20 will fizzle out in the end. Empires, nevermind fashions come and go all the time. Just hopefully test cricket will still be getting played by the time that happens !

    • Columnist

      February 23rd 2017 @ 7:51am
      Geoff Parkes said | February 23rd 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      “I’m not sure anyone could explain the point of the three-match One Day series against New Zealand between the South-African and Pakistan Test series.”

      I’ll have a go Andrew – it’s actually pretty easy.

      International cricket involves TWO sides. Australian fans are conditioned to the ‘summer of cricket’ being shaped around what suits Australia’s domestic needs – fair enough. But the other side of that coin is that the sides that visit here are also entitled to play matches against Australia at home. No matter how inconvenient that may appear to local fans.

      In this case Australia negotiated with NZ to agree to the inaugural day-night test, in return for this series. They have also agreed to more regular Chappell/Hadlee series matches in recent years. Home and away.

      It’s very important for the health of international cricket (in all forms) that matches are not just focused on Australia, India and England.

      There was substantial benefit to NZ from this series – on and off the field. But yes, for those who think cricket starts and ends with Australia, perhaps not so much. Apart from Marcus Stoinis, I think he got something out of it.

      • February 23rd 2017 @ 8:25am
        Neville said | February 23rd 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report


        A good observation, and in doing so you have endorsed the whole thrust of Andrew’s article. That being that there is simply too much cricket played where the focus is ‘in favour of money-making exploits (via) a stream of never-ending senseless short form cricket’ (92 BBL/WBBL fixtures) that the value and importance of International Series such as the one you cited gets lost.

        • Columnist

          February 23rd 2017 @ 10:35am
          Geoff Parkes said | February 23rd 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          Yes Neville, if the question was something like “what’s the point of this series if Australia can’t field its best team” then that’s clearly worthy of serious discussion.

          There is far too much cricket and everyone is struggling to make sense of it.

          But others who questioned this series didn’t do so on this basis, but more from the view of “what’s Australia doing wasting their time going there for a meaningless few games?” Implying that games in the Australian calendar are more important/worthy. Which is patently not the case.

          • February 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm
            Neville said | February 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report


            I don’t read anything in Andrew’s article, either overtly or implied, which suggests that the Australian cricket calendar is more important or worthy than any other country’s. Nor could I find the ‘quote’, “what’s Australia doing wasting their time going there for a meaningless few games?”

            As noted previously, to me the point of the article is exactly the opposite. It is looking to restore the importance of International series (including the One Day series such as that in NZ where Stoinis had a day out) by reviewing the calendar, so that ‘never-ending senseless short form cricket’ namely the ’92 matches across the BBL/WBBL in the 2016-17 season’ don’t take away from important International fixtures next season and beyond.

    • February 23rd 2017 @ 8:51am
      BrainsTrust said | February 23rd 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      The Big Bash has cost hundreds of millions and won’t start to make money unless it gets a bigger TV deal.
      Cricket Australia could have had made an instant cash cow from domestic T20 if they had kept the traditional state format.. The Tv rights to all domestic cricket were already tied up by Nine so they got no Tv money for the old state format of the big Bash and the first two years of the current format.
      To ensure the Big Bash is a success it needs a massive marketing budget, expensive international stars, it has to be played in the summer holiday window , and cheap ticket prices.
      International cricket brings in almost 10 times the TV revenue, overseas teams are unpaid, it can played at any time, and the ticket prices are expensive.
      The KFC business I don’t get how you make money by getting people to wear a KFC bucket, on their head instead of the home team cap.Surely they have done enough for KFC.

      • February 23rd 2017 @ 11:03am
        Glen said | February 23rd 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        They couldn’t have any derbies under the old state big bash format and expansion would be very impractical.

    • February 23rd 2017 @ 10:16pm
      Jeff dustby said | February 23rd 2017 @ 10:16pm | ! Report

      A whole of whining when a problem doesn’t exist

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