The Big Bash became viable last night

Despite lower crowds and lower ratings, I really think the Big Bash turned a corner this year as a viable sporting competition. Until last night, as an old school cricket tragic I had watched the big bash indifferently, not really jumping on either the Stars or the Renegades, but just happy there was cricket on most nights of the week and that the better half actually showed some interest in going to one or two matches. The consensus at my local cricket club was to be expected, the older guys watched indifferently, while a lot of the juniors had actively jumped on a team and gone to quite a few of the games. The main attraction for me really was seeing the fringe players; watching Adam Zampa emerge, watching Ryder Medalist Clive Rose bowl the last over to Kieron Pollard and watching Alex Keath regret his decision to choose cricket over footy. So there I was watching again half-heartedly last night, when a unique moment in following sport happened – that rare moment where something hits you and you know you’ve found a team to support for life. That action packed last over, with a missed run out, dropped catch and staggering last ball no ball, made me feel sick to my stomach. It was sporting drama of the highest order, high stakes were on the line and lo and behold I was seriously caring about what was happening in a 20/20 game. And in that drama filled over, I am now a Stars fan for life.

It struck me that the eventual success of the big bash was and is quite obvious, sporting competitions need rivals, heroes, villains, history and drama to make it all that much more engaging. Something to make you care. Over this season certainly the two Melbourne teams have found that, for the stars fans it came through a moment of agony, for the renegades a lingering feeling of unjustness, that for the underdogs to do so well, only to have the riches of the champions league taken away from them by one man with such a chequered past in Pommersbach. Importantly the Big Bash has now found it’s reason for caring in all of the cities bar Sydney.

Hobart were won over simply by getting their own city based sporting team, and cult heroes in the people’s mullet (Rana Naved) and the people’s rug (Dougie)
Perth have been won over by the brilliant atmosphere and the performances of a much maligned son in Shaun Marsh
Adelaide have been won over almost singlehandedly by the brilliance of Pollard
Brisbane have been won over by the overachieving of their list, and having a great coach in Lehmann
Sydney still look like they have an empty franchise in the Thunder, and the overconfidence and bravado of the Sixers. But this seems indicative of NSW cricket in general.

Regardless of winning me over the Big Bash still has a long way to go. The timing of the competition is vital, particularly next year in an ashes summer. The games post Xmas had far better crowds, but the finals were reduced to a farce with the availability of certain players and changing of international players at the last moment. The teams also need to keep similar cores of players, so that heroes, villains and rivalries can continue to grow.

There was always going to be some teething issues, but for at least one cricket fan, the Big Bash became vital viewing next year.

Are others jumping on the Big Bash like I have? Have you decided on your team?

Comments

  1. Jeff Dowsing says:

    I decided on my team long ago Ridgely; Victoria.

    The Startups & Retrogrades still don’t mean anything to me except one wears green and the other wears red.

    Players will come and go wherever the money blows. The teams are just marketing constructs eminating from the ‘genius’ that is Mike McKenna.

    Had the Big Bash remained as it was and the same enormous money and promotion been invested it would have real rivalries and longer term engagement with the sport itself, without being detrimental to the Australian test team. And I’d suggest greater crowds at more games with just as many TV viewers.

  2. Stainless says:

    Sorry Ridgey – agree with Jeff. The current interest in the BBL has all the hallmarks of the NBL circa mid 1990s.

    Keeping it as a genuine interstate comp might have deprived us of the likes of Gayle, Pollard and other mercenary sloggers, but I think it would be far more beneficial to Australian cricket and could have dragged out many thousands of domestic cricket fans who follow the game avidly but don’t have the time to attend Shield or one day games.

  3. Ripsnorter says:

    Stainless and Jeff are on the money here – I was playing indoor cricket in Perth during this match and the interest shown in the match was intense – maybe because most there enjoy Cricket but netballers and soccer players also were enthralled.

    For them Perth is the WA team so they view it no differently to state cricket – I was given a bit of curry as a Victorian ( I am lower in the social standings here than the kiwis ) as it was the Melbourne Stars they were playing. However I have no great connection to this team but would have had it been Victoria playing.

    They should have kept it to the states – allowed 2 internationals per team and have it that all Australian players are available and maybe brought a couple of kiwi teams in and would have been a good comp – still good to watch but for Vic and NSW very hard to get passionate about.

    This could be a great money spinner in getting people to games and tv compared to the half baked international one day and 20/20 on offer that no one is enthused about watching or turning up to.

  4. I’ll admit it; I stayed up late a bunch of nights to watch Big Bash matches (here they’re on roughly 3-6 am, just after I come home from work). I’m a newbie to cricket and only have been following it since the fall of 2010, when an English friend of mine discussed the Ashes and said that as one of the world’s great sporting events, I should check it out.
    I suppose my favorite form is the one day, long enough to watch the unfolding (and/or unraveling) of an inning strategy. Usually I can come up with enough time to watch a chase. But I enjoy tests, too, though I have to follow them more on the fly.
    In 20/20, everything happens much faster and with so much more urgency — a couple of unproductive overs or an early wicket or two born of overzealous batting can turn a match irrevocably. But I like the pace — maybe that’s an American sensibility — and how quickly fortunes change.
    I also like the effort and enthusiasm required by the urgency and the meaning of each ball, and the liveliness of the crowds, though I wonder how many follow the cricket and how many are just there for an evening out (we have that same issue here with minor-league baseball).
    I have no allegiances in Big Bash, but I’ve been following long enough to know a lot of the best cricketers and matchups, and I chose matches to highlight those. I couldn’t stay up late enough to watch Scorchers-Stars, but I followed the commentary later and watched the highlights. I did see the Heat-Scorchers final.
    Making BBL more like State of Origin I’m sure would arouse tribal loyalties, but honestly how many sports teams truly follow that model anymore? For me it’s a pleasant late-night diversion on a cold winter night. Maybe that’s all it needs to be.

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