A Night At the Big Bash

When Cricket Australia announced the scrapping of the successful, getting-bigger-by-the-season state based Twenty20 competition in favour of a city based, franchise tournament a few years back I couldn’t have been more disappointed. As a reasonably regular attendee or TV watcher of Victoria Bushrangers games at Shield, 50 over and T20 level it was hard to take. Victoria had dominated the competition, drew great crowds to the MCG as well as a sold out game against Queensland at Kardinia Park. The sentiments expressed by Jeff Dowsing in Inside Sport in December 2011 and linked into his article on this site last week echoed my thoughts exactly at the time. I made the big statement back then that I would not attend any matches of the franchise teams.

That promise was kept until Tuesday night. It’s not the first time I’ve made a big cricketing comment that didn’t turn out to be true. Abdul Razzaq, as I predicted in 1999, did not turn out to be a “better all-rounder than Imran Khan”.*

I’m at the ‘G for the Melbourne Stars v Hobart Hurricanes game with my boys Gavin, 6 in February, and Joshua, 3 1/2. My boys have been desperate to get to the cricket for the first time and after considering taking them to the One Day International against England, decide that the shortest format best suits at their age. With us is Jamie and his 5 year old son Noah. We find some seats at the bottom of the top tier of the Olympic Stand right behind the bowlers arm. We’d been hoping for the Stars to win the toss, bat and put on a show. They win the toss and bowl.

Just as the first ball is about to be bowled Gavin asks if I can take him to the toilet. Just like he did minutes before his Uncle was due to run in the 2012 Stawell Gift Final. With his Mum not here, I make him wait until the first over is finished. Tim Paine smashes the first ball of the game straight to Luke Wright at point. After the first over we do toilet, merchandise and drinks. The boys request for a $80 Stars shirt goes unfulfilled. There nothing cheap there. Back at the seat and we are all hoping for the Hobart franchise to make a decent total. The three young boys enjoy the flames and fireworks that accompany each wicket. Jon Wells bats brightly for 19. As does opener Ben Dunk for his 30. Former Victorians Travis Birt and Aiden Blizzard, barely distinguisable as fellow stocky left handers, are the other main contributors with 31 and 28 not out respectively as Hobart finish at 9/131 off their 20 overs. Jon Hastings and David Hussey are the best bowlers in a workmanlike Stars attack.

We move to the bottom deck of the Southern Stand for the Stars innings. Conveniently with a good view of both the cheerleaders and a roped-off celebrity in Trevor Marmalade. Jamie and I ponder the harsh realities of showbiz as Trev looks absolutely bored sitting there by himself waiting for an extremely unlikely catch. We are hoping for a big hitting performance from the in-form Cameron White but the Stars skipper is first out for just 4. From then on it’s a professional run chase by the home team with minimal risk taken. Pommie Luke Wright offers some entertainment in his 52 off 36 balls. The rest of the order all get starts and contribute to the win with everyone making double figures but no-one reaching 20. The Stars win the game with 5 balls to spare and with 5 wickets in hand. Doug Bollinger looks by far the quickest and most impressive bowler of the night. Ben Hilfenhaus bowls OK but looks a yard slower than the last time I saw him live. Stuck on 99 Test wickets, sadly his 100th Test wicket seems a long, long way away.

Josh fell asleep in my arms between overs 12 and 18 but awoke to see the end and the fantastic fireworks display at the end of the game. The whole game seemed like a big concert with modern ‘dance’ and pop music being played between balls and overs. Didn’t play anything I liked. Or even knew. Don’t kids these days like Chisel and the ‘Oils?? The many kids and teens in attendance seemed to love it though.

We make a reasonably quick exit from the MCG carpark and a safe trip back to Colac. The three boys sleep most of the way. I’m grateful to Jamie for some good conversation that kept me awake and alert as I drove on the trip home.

Interesting to attend a BBL game. I was and am a passionate Victorian supporter. For the new format I decided to follow the Stars due to their playing at the ‘G and their proliferation of Bushrangers. The Renegades are my second team, which surely goes against Cricket Australia’s aim of a big rivalry between Melbourne’s ‘cross-town’ rivals. Didn’t have much feeling about the result during the game, was more interested in how certain players performed. Was in attendance a few years back when the Bushrangers v Tasmania Tigers game drew over 43,000. This game between Melbourne and Hobart gathered just over 21,000.  It’s a great, entertaining night out for the kids, though the game finishing at 10.45 is very late even during the school holidays.

Go Stars, well at least until they bring the Bushrangers back!

*Imran Khan (PAK)     88 Tests     3,807 Runs @ 37.69     362 Wickets @ 22.81

Abdul Razzaq (PAK)    46 Tests    1,946 Runs @ 28.61       100 Wickets @ 36.94


About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. You confess to making a few bad judgement calls, and then trot out an example from 1999??? Hubris???? I could find a half dozen from the last week.
    Did you see any Maximums?
    Sounds like the kids enjoyed it until the ‘big day out’ sleepiness kicked in. Dad sounds underwhelmed.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Luke while purely population wise it makes sense to have 2 sides in Vic and NSW it just doesn’t seem to work in Aust , 1 of the sides seems to become the poor cousin of th other ( Melb Heart , Renegades , Sydney Thunder etc ) and the rivalry is fake unlike the Derbys of English soccer etc .
    Luke you and I as regular attendees at shield games ( not many people can write that )
    are not the target audience and the crowds and tv ratings show what a winner 20 20 cricket is yep I go but it is to catch up with mates etc with a low care factor re the result which would rise dramatically if it was still the Redbacks
    Rating Razzaq in front of Imran has that caused you to get drafted by Carlton instead of your beloved pies as punishment ? Thanks Luke

  3. Nice mea culpa on the Paki all-rounder stock.

    Significantly, given the Almanac’s interest in the Stawell Gift, how did Uncle Gavin go. Would love to read the whole story if you have time. We are planning a Stawell Gift lunch for this year – possibly Wed April 16 – and Bob Utber has organised a tent for Almanackers at Central Park. More to come on both of those.

    [Of course Dips O’Donnelll ran third in 1984 and his father John won it in 1955.]

    Would love to hear from any others who have given it a crack.

    [Sorry to drag this off topic]

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Peter- ha, plenty of bad calls since 1999. Just starting at the start! Only a few maximums.

    Thanks Malcolm. The BBL is a huge success crowd and TV ratings wise. Am still convinced the state based comp would have been every bit as big, if not bigger, on free to air.

    John- Gavin’s Uncle (and my brother in law) Adam Coote ran 3rd in the 2012 Stawell Gift final. Like Dips. Wrote a bit about it here http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/the-stawell-gift/ will write more about it at Gift time. We are all going back up to Stawell again this year, almanac lunch sounds great.

  5. Hi Luke.
    I admire your making an effort to get to these games. Agree with your thoughts on franchise v state teams. And unsurprised re: the merchandise stand.
    Thanks for another cracking cricket piece.

  6. Glen Potter says

    I’ve been, reluctantly, sucked into the Big Bash Show. My 10-year-old can’t get enough of it (however he devours all three forms of the game). We’ve been along to a few matches this summer. The boys loves it while I grit my teeth at the deafening sideshow while I attempt to focus on the contest. Don’t start me on those f***** ‘thunder’ sticks!
    I agree with you on the point about if it had’ve been a free-to-air/state competition it would’ve been equally if not more successful.

  7. Mickey Randall says

    Luke- as always I enjoyed your observations. There’s much about the BBL that grates, but I/we are not the target audience. My boys enjoyed it when we were back in Australia over Christmas, and have subscribed to the cricket channel upon returning to Singapore. It’s got them interested in the game and I’m hopeful that they’ll eventually graduate to Test cricket, and I can show them youtube clips of Warney (bowling only!) and Mark Waugh batting.
    As such the BBL serves a vital function. Well done!

  8. Great stuff Luke!

    $80 for kids apparel? Do they get dinner and a floor show for that kind of outlay?

  9. Nice one Luke, it was with some trepidation I took my littlies but all in all I’m glad I did.

    Don’t think I’d have done the same if I lived in Colac. A 6.30-7pm start would be better for kids but TV Prime Time rules and we’d miss the outrageously unfunny Meshel Lawrie on The Project.

    Speaking of comedians, I was watching the game on TV and thinking the same of poor old Trev Marmalade. Not many watching would even know he was still a thing.

    The BBL isn’t bad but it could have been so much better. State teams would have seen the game have its cake and eat it so far as target demographics.

    Kudos to CA for making it affordable though, cost me just $20 and the kids were free.

    I’d be interested to know the financial outcome this season – i.e. $35m from Ten versus the sizeable marketing spend.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks David. The things we do for our kids…

    Glen- yeah didn’t mention those thunder sticks. Extremely annoying!

    Thanks Mickey. By the sheer number of kids in the crowd and the fun they were having, it is working.

    Cheers Steve. It’d want to be a bloody good dinner for that price too. Couldn’t even get a player badge or something like that, my boys would have been happy with that.

    Thanks Jeff, the trip to and from Colac is very good now with the Geelong bypass and our only option anyway to see top level sport. Pricing is really good. And yes, would love to know what the marketing bill amounts to.

  11. Troy Hancox says

    Great story.
    Don’t think my wallet can handle games with adult kids in tow.
    It certainly appears to be marketted to the younger folk, after all. They are the future of the game.
    Keep the kids interested, then, hopefully, they take up the game or become tragics.

    It appears to be Americanised a tad with all the pomp and ceremony, but one has to keep the kids entertained between stoppages.

    The New Years Eve game was a massive dollar windfall.

    Again, SA fails to make the finals………………

  12. Andrew Starkie says

    Back at uni, I used to live with a mate who could sit in front of the TV for hours without taking anything in.

    ‘What’s the temperature for tomorrow?’

    ‘Sorry mate, didn’t notice.’


    I’m a bit like that with the 20/20. I have it on occasionally, mainly because it’s off-peak time, but don’t pay attention. It’s just a blur of noise and colour. And as deep as ‘Days of our Lives’. I don’t know who’s who, only green are playing red, pink, purple. I can’t keep up with the players. Is Huss captain of one of the Sydney teams? Is Bravo suddenly playing? Is Warney? Is that the new Mayor of Geelong keeping for the other Sydney team?

  13. Luke,
    If ever there is a sport that is made for television it is T20 cricket…
    I have been to the last two Stars home games. I adopted the Stars as I am an MCC member. Interestingly, I have found myself enjoying the matches more while propped at the (sparsely-populated) bars and watching them on tv more than actually sitting outside. It is just more enjoyable to watch through the lens of a television camera.
    A good point about the late starts. I got home to Williamstown at midnight!

  14. Nice one, Luke. I went to T20 international at the G a few years back and found the incessant music and “announcements” so distracting that I really struggled to concentrate on the game, despite making a genuine attempt to absorb the tactics and the play itself. How did you fare in that department?

    Have been sucked in to watching a few BBL games on TV this summer and admit to enjoying them on some level, possibly because the Punter/Junior/Gilly chats have been quite good.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Gigs, Smokie, Andrew and Troy.

    Gigs, yeah it’s hard to focus on the game. Felt like I was looking at the scoreboard after every ball to remind myself where the game was at.

    Smokie, watching it from the bar sounds ideal! Was 1.15 when I made it home. And that was with getting out of the carpark reasonably quickly.

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