BBL07: T20Is and BBL finals – why we can’t have both?

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    I have to admit I’ve been a little bit surprised by some of the commentary critical of the timing of the Twenty20 International tri-series with New Zealand and England, and how it’s going to bastardise the Big Bash League finals series.

    On the surface, it feels like much of the commentary is based on seeing four games in close proximity on the calendar and making a whole lot of assumptions that may or may not be true.

    This is the issue: the BBL semi-finals will be played on Thursday, February 1 and Friday, February 2, and the Final will be played on Sunday, February 4.

    Australia plays New Zealand in the first match of the Twenty20 tri-series on Saturday, February 3 in Sydney. And just to add to the selection mess, the Prime Minister’s XI will take on England in Canberra on Friday, February 2 as well.

    The commentary suggesting that the BBL Finals will be compromised by the best players being required for the national side seems to be working on two broad assumptions: the first being that the eleven best-performing BBL players will automatically be selected for Australia, and the second being that Australian players will go into camp before the BBL semis and won’t be released back.

    The first assumption almost certainly won’t be true, because, for starters, there will be players in the ODI side who follow onto the Twenty20 side without having played much BBL in recent weeks anyway.

    The second assumption – that players won’t be released back to BBL sides – also assumes that only the top four teams will supply players to the Australian side, and that also won’t be true. And the part about players not being released may not be true either, based on a very encouraging precedent set over the weekend.

    Travis Head and Alex Carey weren’t required for the third ODI in Sydney, and were immediately released to the Strikers for tonight’s game against the Renegades. But that wasn’t all.

    Cameron White was promoted to no.3 in the batting order yesterday, but he, too, was named to resume his place as Renegades captain in what is a hugely important game for his side. Clearly, CA want the best BBL players to play for their sides, and it was a move not lost on the players.

    Come the finals and the first T20I, there’s no reason why the same sort of thing can’t happen, and there’s two ways that CA can make it happen.

    They could pick a squad for the first Twenty20 without players from the top four sides, which at any rate with the natural overflow from the Australian ODI side might only mean some – but not all – of White, Carey, Head, AJ Tye, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Agar, Michael Klinger, Aaron Finch, and perhaps even Chris Lynn just sit out the first Twenty20 game.

    The second way – and most logical way, in my humble opinion – is to pick a bigger squad for the first Twenty20 with the expectation that guys will be released to play the BBL Final.

    A squad of 17, 18, or even 20 players could be picked, but the final squad doesn’t have to be named until after both semi-finals have been played, and with the respective BBL players released back to their sides for the Final. Then, refine the squad for the next block of T20Is after the BBL Final and first Twenty20 have been played.

    Aaron Finch of the Melbourne Renegades

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    There’s no reason why this can’t happen. Yes, the schedule isn’t perfect, but a workable solution does exist. In reality, it would only be a handful players who play the BBL Final instead of the first T20I. It’s hardly a huge issue.

    “Por que no los dos?” the Old El Paso ad famously asked. We can have both, cute little girl. We really can.

    Current BBL07 table

    The Perth Scorchers inched that much closer to a home semi-final, chasing down Hobart’s total on Saturday night, following the Sydney Thunder keeping their finals hope alive earlier in the day. It means the Big Bash League table looks this way.

    PERTH 14, ADELAIDE 12, HOBART 10, MELBOURNE RENEGADES 8; Sydney Thunder 8, Brisbane 8, Sydney Sixers 6, Melbourne Stars 2.

    Upcoming games

    Monday – Game 35: Melbourne Renegades vs Adelaide Strikers, Docklands
    This is quite intriguing, this game, made only more so by the return of the Australian players to both sides. Carey will be buzzing from his Australian debut, Head will be eager to find some form, and White will keen to prove that his national recall wasn’t for nothing. And, there’s the small detail of each side and their fight for finals security. Strikers win, and they can go top again with run rate; Renegades win, and they jump to third.

    Tip – Strikers. I’m not sure White’s return is enough, nor am I sold on Kieron Pollard’s inclusion for the Renegades.

    Tuesday – Game 36: Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars, SCG
    Okay, cricket fans, if there was a night to earn brownie points at home this week, or if you are indeed contemplating a night watching another channel, tonight’s the night. It’s seven versus eight; the two most disappointing teams in #BBL07. I can only think of Nathan Lyon’s bowling and Glenn Maxwell’s batting as reasons to watch. No judgements here.

    Tip – Sixers. The Stars wasted benefit of the coin toss last Saturday, they don’t get a second chance.

    Wednesday – Game 37: Sydney Thunder vs Melbourne Renegades; Manuka Oval, Canberra
    Canberra returns to the BBL circuit for the first time since the BBL04 Final, and though not that long ago this game looked like it might be a bit of a dead rubber, recent results have suddenly thrust great importance on it.

    After Monday night’s game, the Renegades will either be on ten points and back in the top four, or still on eight and in a battle. If it’s the latter, that plays into the Thunder’s hands, with Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson in ominous late-season form.

    Tip – Thunder. I don’t really know why…

    Thursday – Game 38: Perth Scorchers vs Adelaide Strikers, the WACA
    I wrongly suggested Sunday’s match against Hobart was the Scorchers’ last at the WACA, but of course, it’s this one against Adelaide that will quite likely decide home final hosting rights.

    Depending on what Adelaide did on Monday night, Perth may already be secure in the semi; regardless, both teams will be looking to win this game and edge close toward nailing down top spot. The big question: how many ODI reps will feature in this game?

    Tip – Scorchers. No matter the situation, they just find ways of winning at home.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • January 22nd 2018 @ 10:44am
      Brian said | January 22nd 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      Sorry but its ridiculous. You can dress it up with larger squads and the best solution possible but what would one say if the AFL or NRL scheduled the State of Origin one day after the Preliminary Finals?

      Anyway you slice it either Australia is not putting its best team for the T20 International or the BBL sides aren’t putting theirs, certainly not in terms of preparation as well. CA treating the followers as absolute mugs who will watch anything as long as they can buy a KFC bucket.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2018 @ 11:34am
        Brett McKay said | January 22nd 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        It’s apples and oranges though, Brian. Neither the AFL nor NRL need to work their schedule in with an overriding global schedule incorporating a dozen other countries.

        But if the solution is there – and I think it is – then adopting that solution is surely better than ensuring one is definitely weaker (or weaker than it needs to be)…

        • January 22nd 2018 @ 4:08pm
          Brian said | January 22nd 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

          CA has some say in the international schedule but its not in their full control. Lets however assume that the tri-series had to start on the 3rd February

          1. Why could it not just start with the 2 NZ v Eng T20 so all Australian players are available for the BBL Finals?
          2. If they kept the BBL at 8 rounds the final would be a week earlier in line with school holidays and before the international T20
          3. They could have had more back to back games in the Xmas new year period to also have the final a week earlier

          I’m BBL fatigued as is without going into February, the scheduling is terrible

          • Columnist

            January 22nd 2018 @ 8:24pm
            Brett McKay said | January 22nd 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

            They are all quite reasonable questions, Brian, and there’s no doubt CA have contributed to this issue by adding the extra round of games.

            Even with the extra round though, and even if the T20Is had to start on Feb 3, consider this:

            The last regular season games are on Saturday evening, and the first semi isn’t until next Thursday.

            If there any reason the semis couldn’t have been played on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Final on Friday, Feb 2?

    • January 22nd 2018 @ 1:49pm
      Paul said | January 22nd 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

      Here’s a way to avoid these problems for next season. Ditch the ODIs altogether to make more room for domestic and international 20/20 to better integrate. Perhaps with more 20/20 internationals. Makes things easier for players, administrators, and selectors. Makes things more interesting and engaging for fans. ODIs are the fax machine of cricket.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2018 @ 8:26pm
        Brett McKay said | January 22nd 2018 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

        I’d go the other way, myself, Paul. I’ve long questioned the need for T20 Internationals, and I still question it now. I’d do away with T20Is even with World Cups. Just leave T20s for the franchises and provinces, and play a WT20 every four years…

    • January 22nd 2018 @ 5:02pm
      Dexter The Hamster said | January 22nd 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

      Brett, I have a concern with your suggestion of naming a larger squad, and then just releasing the players whose BBL teams make the final.

      What if the player would rather play for Australia? I know it sounds crazy in these modern days of the franchise. If Short is picked to play for Aust (which he has been), but then he helps the Hurricanes to the Final, sorry D’Arcy, you are not playing the next T20I, you are back to the Hurricanes. Maybe some people like that, maybe some players will too, but its hardly putting the International game and national representation at the top of the tree is it?

      Anywho, its a tough situation and no solution will ever be perfect.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2018 @ 8:31pm
        Brett McKay said | January 22nd 2018 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

        Yeah, and I get that Dexter, so communication becomes key there. Using Short as your example, I’m quite sure he would want to play for Australia, and so the selectors would have to be clear that he still would in the next game or two.

        Of course it’s all a bit moot now, with the T20I squad picked, and only four of the 14 players named not from teams still in contention, plus David Warner. With no mention of players being released, if it’s a Perth-Adelaide Final, we could see up to half a dozen missing…

    • January 22nd 2018 @ 5:37pm
      Targa said | January 22nd 2018 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

      Interesting. As a Kiwi I think we might lose that first game of the triseries in Aus before winning our 3 games then the final back here

    • January 22nd 2018 @ 5:42pm
      moaman said | January 22nd 2018 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

      Luckily it’s just little ‘ol NZ Australia is up against so it shouldn’t really matter what eleven Oz puts out in that first game….;-)

      • January 22nd 2018 @ 8:30pm
        Doctor Rotcod said | January 22nd 2018 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

        Is Pakistan a true test for NZ?So would Devcich come in or Will Young maybe? Luke Ronchi has one good innings in five.Any one else?

        • January 22nd 2018 @ 8:53pm
          Targa said | January 22nd 2018 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

          Mark Chapman is the biggest omission on current form

        • January 22nd 2018 @ 9:41pm
          moaman said | January 22nd 2018 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

          “So would Devcich come in or Will Young maybe?”
          Come in for whom? The current squad is pretty settled right now. Neither Williams nor Boult played today.

          As to your first question; Pakistan are a bit rattled at present–muddled selections, batting orders etc but remain a formidable and talented squad.
          Quite hard to guage NZ’s actual strength.

    • Roar Pro

      January 22nd 2018 @ 9:22pm
      anon said | January 22nd 2018 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

      T20i’s take precedence.

      We need to play more T20i games in Australia and a specialist T20i coach. Maybe even a ODI coach.

      Pick players who take the format seriously.

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