Steve Smith’s heavy exposure to T20s since his ball-tampering ban has added an extra gear to his batting, as he underlined with a stunning 62-ball ton against India on Friday.
It’s been a pretty busy week in the world of cricket.
From this summer’s BBL rule changes to COVID’s trip to Adelaide and the re-jigging of the World Test Championship, let’s dive into the talking points created by the news of this week.
The BBL10 rule changes make a mockery of T20 cricket
On Monday, Cricket Australia announced new rules for this summer’s Big Bash League, designed to “keep people invested across the whole 40 overs”, in the words of Trent Woodhill, CA’s player acquisition and cricket consultant for the BBL.
CA is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t need to be solved, instead of looking at the real problem of maintaining interest across a two-month long tournament, which is something I wrote about only a fortnight ago.
My idea of splitting the eight teams into two groups felt a bit far out to me, but it’s not as far out as changing the very nature of the T20 format of the game.
While the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, it’s still questionable why such a significant change was felt to be necessary.
The rules threaten to make the BBL irrelevant as they give the tournament a uniqueness of the kind that belongs in a different format such as the Hundred or Martin Crowe’s brainchild from the 1990s, Cricket Max.
Instead, CA have made changes that have the potential to confuse. That should be clear when you bear in mind that the opening match of the BBL on December 10 will be completely different to the T20 international between Australia and India that takes place just two days earlier, despite both matches going into the record books as T20 fixtures.
That may be technically correct but the difference in rules is still concerning for a tournament that uses a format of the game considered to be the stepping stone to get people interested and involved in cricket.
Adelaide’s COVID cluster was a reminder that complacency is not an option this summer
When the men’s international fixtures were finally locked in at the end of last month, there was optimism in the air.
Melbourne had just emerged from a long lockdown and state borders were beginning to open up again. Then came news of a cluster in Adelaide.
This story is developing, but this is still a wake-up call, proving that it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows just yet, at least not until a vaccine is being widely administered.
As such, writing about contingency plans isn’t entirely irrelevant, given CA nearly needed one.
Regardless of whether fans are allowed into grounds – they will be – the teams will be in their bio-secure bubbles, which allows for the tour to go ahead no matter what.
As Pat Cummins said: “If we can fly over to the UK and play in a bubble over there, it shows we’ll find a way.”
Therefore, the front runner of options going around in my head was to just hold the Test behind closed doors, which would probably be the decision that CA would take if push came to shove, disappointing though it would be.
Matches could potentially be moved to alternate venues. For example, the Adelaide Test could switch places with the Brisbane Test to allow time for the COVID situation in SA to improve.
Nevertheless, it is still something to think about, as are any other contingency options, with COVID still making its presence felt for a good while yet.
Don’t criticise the ICC too much, they did the best they could with the World Test Championship
This year has decimated the international calendar at the hands of COVID-19, and the inaugural World Test Championship has not been immune.
Therefore, on Thursday, the decision was taken by the ICC to decide the league table by the percentage of points scored compared to points available, rather than by points scored, as this was deemed to give some nations an unfair disadvantage due to the sheer amount of matches either postponed or cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
The ICC have made the best out of a bad situation and while their decision may not be ideal, it’s better than further delays to an already delayed Future Tours Programme.
And at the end of the day, things haven’t changed much.
It is still looking like a fight between Australia, England and India for the two spots at next June’s final at Lord’s, as it was before the changes were made.
The upcoming dogfights between Australia and India, then India and England will still play a role in who will be crowned World Test Champion next June, regardless of how the league stage will be settled.