In the end, the conclusion was almost the perfect way to end what has been a funny old week in Big Bash League history.
Because there still seems to be a perverse humour in seeing the Melbourne Stars lose a final. Their finals record now sits at three wins from 12 finals games. They built their unfortunate reputation on losing four straight semi-finals, and now they’ve lost their third final in the past five seasons.
I don’t know why it’s amusing, but it is. It really is peak Big Bash.
The Sydney Sixers are the BBL|09 champions by virtue of out-batting and out-bowling the Stars, pure and simple.
Josh Phillipe was superb. Steve Smith was superb. Jordan Silk’s late cameo proved to be crucial.
Then with the ball, the old firm stood tall, with Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe take two wickets and Josh Hazlewood bowling a spell that was a lot better than 1/18 from three overs looks in a scorebook.
But after all the hand-wringing and false future-reading about the weather than was definitely going to wash the game but then just didn’t, the real winners are surely the Sydney Cricket Ground staff, who ripped the covers up at the first opportunity and ensured as much cricket was played as possible.
Only about a quarter of the sold-out crowd turned up, but I can’t imagine too many of them would have predicted they’d see 24 overs bowled and Messrs Duckworth and Lewis not required. Sydney Airport had recorded 41mm of rain for the day by the time Moises Henriques had lifted the LED-illuminated BBL trophy.
Most importantly, it was just a really good game of cricket.
And though it wasn’t needed in the end, it certainly makes a lot of sense that a reserve day should be scheduled alongside the final.
Not giving more fodder to critics shouldn’t be a reason for making a decision, especially for a sporting governing body or competition administration making a decision, but it’s equally true that the critics have lined up to point out the absurdity of the prospect of the Sixers being crowned champions purely because they won the right to host the final.
The idea of moving the final was ludicrous – because if you wouldn’t move a Melbourne team away from Melbourne, why should other teams have to move to Melbourne? – but for a competition that promotes itself on the thrill of the contest, it does seem rather weird that a title might have been awarded without any contest at all.
And in fairness, none of the previous eight BBL finals ever looked like being washed out.
It’s only that the forecast for Sydney made it clear it was going to be a wet weekend so far out that it became an issue this season.
It already appears likely this scenario won’t play out again, with Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts conceding that a reserve day will quite probably be among the first things discussed in the BBL season debrief.
That all said, had no play been possible last night, a reserve day this summer might not have helped anyway, with yet more heavy rain forecast for Sydney today.
Nevertheless, it would be intriguing to know what else makes the list for the debrief.
The attendance and TV numbers have showed distinct in-school-holidays and out-of-school-holidays boundaries for the last few seasons, which has only fuelled the perception that the competition has lost its lustre or that the BBL’s best days are already behind us.
And when the players themselves are suggesting that a full home-and-away season is probably too much, then perhaps the ‘season is too long’ movement is gaining traction.
For what it’s worth, the condensed schedule with 15 doubleheaders through the season meant it didn’t drag on like last season. This summer’s comp was only a week shorter than last season, yet last season felt like it ran for months and months.
I have a feeling shaving more time off next season’s schedule will also feature prominently in the debrief.
Just hear the retro bat porn
It was the moment bat nerds had a little moment. Ricky Ponting’s first Bushfire Bash indoor net session video this week was interesting for obvious reason, but it was his second video that got the hearts racing.
Attention bat nerds: is Ponting this morning in Melbourne batting with what appears to a retro Kooka Ridgeback?!? pic.twitter.com/LUSEmjwU02
— Brett McKay (@BMcSport) February 7, 2020
It was indeed a retro-inspired Ridgeback, and it emerged that Ponting will be joined by Justin Langer, Brad Haddin and Brad Hodge using reincarnate versions of Kookaburra bats – or at least the bat stickers – of days gone by in today’s game.
And I don’t mind admitting it will probably be enough to get me watching this afternoon’s charity game. I wasn’t even a Kookaburra devotee back in my playing days, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love old bat memories?
I can’t think of a better way to call time on the cricket summer.