The Ten Commandments of BBL cricket

With the fifth BBL drawn to a close in a haze of fireworks smoke it is timely to reflect on the key lessons from this season. Inscribed in tablets here are the Ten Commandments of BBL cricket brought down from Adelaide Oval’s grassy mound by Charlton Heston.


1. Thou may takest BBL seriously but it is not compulsory

‘Is it cricket?’ has been the question du jour from the test cricket mob. If so, it is still as disposable as a hotel razor, follows the logic. T20 is simply a game of chance where one performance can dictate the outcome. The concept of ‘the better team’ is shaky therefore results are meaningless. T20 is the fairy floss of the cricketing world.

Now the BBL’s fifth season is over it is time to say that it’s ok to take T20 seriously. The franchises are well established and each have moderately distinct characters. We have sufficient evidence that it’s not just a game of chance – some teams by dint of their good teaminess have achieved consistent success while the reverse has occurred as well. It’s great when Travis Head hits a six to win the game and bring up his century and it hurts when your team loses a final.

The BBL now has all the credentials that any other sport needs to be taken seriously. First and foremost, people willing to take it seriously. So go for it, care away. However, it’s a largely free country so there’s no need to if it’s not your cup of tea. Hopefully you now better understand those that see something more than a chicken dance revival.


2. Adelaide is thy cathedral

Yes, I know, City of Churches; Adelaide Oval next to a cathedral – but the hat fits. With its losing semi final on Thursday night the Strikers had its fourth sell-out of a fifty something thousand seat stadium in five games. Some 218,000 punters have scanned their way into Adelaide Oval at an average of 43,700 per game. That’s more per game than Port Power managed last year and 3,500 more than the Stars, despite them hosting the final.

BBL became a proper thing this year because the unrelenting support for the game from a big crowd at a big stadium made it acceptable, once, for a bigger crowd at a bigger stadium. It’s just that Adelaide Oval is a much better venue to watch cricket. And the sunsets… don’t get me started on the sunsets. Apparently the sun does set in other places too but, from the inside of a concrete monstrosity, how would you know?


3. Chris Gayle shall be banished from the dominion because he is rubbish at cricket

Chris Gayle’s side-field exploits have highlighted a schism in the Australian community. By now everybody has had a chance to have their say, much like everyone has had a chance to not see the new Star Wars movie free of spoiler. From this point, few opinions will change and good luck to you if you persist in being wrong. The media has discussed how he may not be allowed back for future BBLs on character grounds (or lack thereof). But there’s a much simpler reason why Gayle shouldn’t come back – he’s not very good at cricket.

Stay with me here. Yes, he did just score the equal fastest 50 in T20 history but that is kind of the point. It is always about him and never about the team. After scoring that 50 did he hang around and see his team through (like Khawaja in the semi) or did he hole out playing a lazy shot to a part-time spinner? When he fails with the bat does he contribute with the ball (like Head) or is he just a liability in the field? Does he run hard between the wickets, grabbing every vital run, or does he saunter like he doesn’t care how much the team scores? Is he a good influence amongst his younger teammates or does he just tell those that suggest otherwise to kiss his ‘rass’, whatever that is?

Chris Gayle should not come back to Australia because he has become a rubbish cricketer despite his talent. Any team that purchases his services is paying far too high a price for failure which is usually obtainable for free.


4. Thou shalt select Usman Khawaja whenever Australia plays

Khawaja in the semi final against the Strikers was just sublime and he doubled up in the final. Having just argued there is more to the game than individual pieces of brilliance, one man won that semi final. While Khawaja was at the crease the Thunder were not going to lose, so untroubled was he by the Strikers’ attack. While Australia is playing any form of international cricket (the men, anyway) Khawaja should be batting at three. I mean picking Shaun Marsh ahead of him, seriously?


5. Mark Waugh shall be relieved of all commentarial and selectorial responsibilities

The best thing Mark Waugh has done in cricket is leg glance and it has been 12 years since he’s done that. On the BBL he does the matey interactions ok but that’s pretty much where it ends. He and Howey in the same commentary box are borderline Channel 9 unlistenable. Channel 10 making a feature of his barracking for the Thunder, again, makes for painful listening. Does anyone find conflicts of interest fun?

In fact, the only thing that is more embarrassing is his seeming lack of knowledge of emerging Australian cricketers. No big deal when you’re a national selector, really. Cricket commentary and national selection needs enquiring minds. Channel 10 have done well in putting a number in the BBL commentary boxes. A few more wouldn’t go astray.


6. Thou shalt engrave in bronze the person that negotiated Channel 10’s TV rights deal

Channel 10 paid $20 million a year for the rights to the cricket and got one million viewers a night. They must be making that money back in Zooper Doopers alone. Combined with the coverage of the WBBL, Channel 10 is adding much needed diversity to our cricket viewing options. The person that negotiated that deal deserves our thanks and maybe a Basil Sellers statue out the front of the studios.


7. Thou shalt watch cricket on TV

A million people a night watching the BBL, hundreds of thousands watching the WBBL in the afternoons. Australians love having their TVs on if there’s cricket to be had. It certainly helps that the summer of free-to-air TV is usually as dull as a person that voted for David Leyonhjelm on purpose. But the lesson is clear – any channel that has cricket should show it at every opportunity during the summer. Raining? Test finishes early? Confect some more cricket to show – people will watch it.


8. One Day cricket shall learn better lessons from BBL

The BBL is a flash new dessert bar, probably owned by a hipster. It is fun, quick, relatively inexpensive and offers mostly the saccharine sweet bits of cricket. Meanwhile One Day cricket, the 40 year old restaurant next door, is jealously watching the funky new rival. Do they look to emulate the new kid on the block (much like Take That) or find a different way to revitalise interest?

Well, the One Day restaurant appears to have chosen the former path and is busily serving up three courses of dessert with tracks as lifeless as a Chris Gayle book signing at a university Gender Studies department. Trouble is three lots of dessert is liable to make you sick and likely sooner than later you’ll stop coming back, preferring the dessert bar anyway.

Ok, that analogy has been bludgeoned motionless. What lessons should One Day cricket learn from BBL? Here are a few: be interesting; be diverse; be affordable; be fun in a way other than just seeing how many young men will come dressed as giant babies, or Richie or whatever.


9. BBL shall be known as ‘summertime AFL’ but with broader appeal

Think about it. Both go for about three hours. Both will have greater than 10 but fewer than 50 points of major celebration (wickets, boundaries, goals). You’ll happily sit down and watch both as a bit of light entertainment, even if your team isn’t playing. BBL is the AFL of the summer – except more people like it. The games of Australian Rules football and cricket have been linked ever since the former was invented. The BBL continues this tradition but this time from a fan’s perspective rather than a player’s.


10. BBL shall beget a new generation of Australian cricketers

Ask your local cricket club how junior participation is going. While you’re at it ask them how many Zooper Doopers they’ve sold this summer. To say BBL has attracted children to cricket this summer is like saying Brett Lee attracts people to the mute button – an understatement. BBL has kids playing cricket – in Adelaide they want to play like Travis Head, in Western Sydney it’s Usman Khawaja. Orthodox stroke makers who are capable of playing all three forms of cricket. Not a bad thing. In Western Melbourne they want to be like… well, exceptions prove rules, don’t they?

Granted they are teaching the ramp shot to kids who have not yet learned a sound forward defence but we are also seeing kids who want to be leg spinners for reasons other than Shane Warne. That becomes a better thing with each passing day. BBL will not ruin test cricket – it will provide the next generation of test cricketers.


There are, no doubt, plenty more lessons to be drawn from the BBL, such as what a stupid idea privitisation would be and how fireworks shouldn’t be used in a stadium with a roof. What is undoubtedly the case is that BBL is a thing (regardless of how it acquired said thingness) and can be a force for cricketing good in the coming years. Bring on #BBL06!

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. bob.speechley says

    BBL has been captivating with many magnificent highlights. I think personally the Commandments are appropriate except there is a conflict in my mind about the inclusion/exclusion of Chris Gayle from future series. His hitting is awesome and despite the fact that he is only in it for himself he is a lesson for anyone who takes the “game” seriously. The gap between BBL and serious cricket is broad but the link should be good for the game overall.

  2. You conveniently forgot to mention the Strikers also achieved a bigger crowd than any Camry Crows home game, but still have a little way to go to match the Power!

  3. Thanks for the comments, folks. Yep, Bob, comes down to whether a team is seeking to entertain or entertain and win. Plenty of style with substance available at that price in world cricket.

    Well spotted Mike. You Port types must have a sixth sense for sneaky sledges (just as I have one for sneaking them in). Of course averages are more important than peaks and the Crows averaged 46500 last season – well ahead of both the Strikers and the Power. Doubt it’s possible to get to 53,500 with the areas behind the sightscreens and dancing stages not available for bums on seats.

  4. Barry McAdam says

    It’s taken me to season 5, but the BBL has won me over. I’d still rather watch Tasmania play but the two games I attended at Bellerieve Oval had a wonderful atmosphere, 90% of crowd in purple. I was hooked watching any game every night on TV. Go Hurricanes!!!

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Great points Dave. I’m yet to become a fully passionate Stars supoorter, but my passion has grown each year.
    Chris Gayle is an average player. Just look at his Test record over more than 100 Tests.
    ME Waugh is a rubbish commentator. Most of the Ch 10 team are very good though, and suit the format.
    Anything that makes more kids want to play cricket can only be a good thing for the sport. At the Pomborneit CC we have more juniors than we’ve had for years. They all seem to follow the game, in all it’s formats, more closely than the kids of 10 years ago. I’m optimistic future Test followers will come from the kids who start out watching the BBL.
    Great work Dave. Go Stars.

  6. Scott McIntyre says

    Scheduling of the BBL finals has to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. I realise that national representation takes precedence over what is effectively some sort of hybrid between club and state cricket, but the unavailability of so many Stars players due to national commitments really took the gloss off the final, for mine. It was effectively a Thunder VS Stars A fixture. Yes – national cricket is important, but with national short form games being, by definition, 1 day in duration, surely we can shuffle things in future such that the best players are available for the biggest game of the most popular cricket competition. You don’t see the rugby league scheduling State Of Origin the day before the grand final.

    You bring up Khawaja and Mark Waugh – I’m all for Mark Waugh being speared, as you suggest, from all his cricket roles on the basis of being a prawn, but surely he can no longer continue to be both a national selector and also heavily involved at Sydney Thunder. Even in the conflict-ridden world of Australian sport, this particular conflict stands out like a sore thumb. I mean – both teams in the Big Bash final have players in the national squads – one Sydney player gets “released” from the Australian squad to play in the BBL final, another Sydney player (who is arguably the best batsman in cricket at the moment) gets “dropped” from the Australian one-day squad and plays in 2 BBL finals, meanwhile zero Melbourne Stars are released from the national squads to play in the BBL final and one of the national selectors is the self-styled “Governor” of the Sydney Thunder. Please.

  7. Dave Brown says

    G’day Barry, yep love the enthusiasm of Bellerive crowds – looks like a really fun atmosphere.

    Cheers Luke. Yep, the lad started off with BBL last year and will now happily watch all 3 forms.

    Hi Scott, I’m a bit each way on that one (not the Mark Waugh bit, I agree wholeheartedly). Having players unavailable on international duties have always been a part of domestic cricket. Suspect NSW might have won a few more shields over the last 30 years otherwise. Everyone except the Thunder were affected in the BBL finals: Strikers were missing Richardson and forced to use a bowler in his first game for the season to open; the Scorchers were missing the Marshes and the Stars were missing their four. Clubs make decisions based upon anticipated availability of players, hence my ambivalence. The Stars knew full well that Maxwell and Faulkner would be unavailable from the start of the season. The real issue for me is why Marsh is being picked ahead of Khawaja. I am unconvinced by Rod Marsh’s explanation. I would rather CA had a clear and stated policy about making players available.

  8. Michael Viljoen says

    I’ll take a guess that ‘rass’ is an oblique reference to Rastafarian.

  9. I’m a convert. I was sceptical about the franchise-based structure, but like this too, and the fact that we get to see Kallis, Hussey the Senior, KP etc in action. Hoggy’s tongue has achieved cult status in our house. Does it have its own twitter account?

    Khawaja was brilliant in the semi final. It was stylish, and team-centric; probably the opposite in form and purpose to the Gayle Sturm und Drang. Marsh ahead of him? Would rather see Mrs Marsh (and her stick of chalk).

    Thanks Dave.

  10. Hi Michael, yes, could explain the leading ‘r’.

    Sadly Mrs Marsh is no longer on this mortal coil, Mickey. Otherwise she’d probably be in the touring party for New Zealand.

  11. Trucker Slim says

    I came, I saw, I went, ‘meh’.

    Not regarding your essay Mr Brown, this was an excellent read. As for Big Bash, not so much.

    I remain unconvinced, maybe even with pursed lips. I don’t know. It looks like cricket and plays a little bit like cricket but there is more of what Dame Edna calls, “the colour and movement” going on than a cricket match.

    But good luck to it and all its fans.


  12. You forget the 11th commandment

    Thou shalt have krusty demons undertake unthinkable stunts while thy worships at the alter of fireworks

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