How we can make the Bigger Bash even better
Let me start by saying I am a cricket nut — and for me there is never going to be too much cricket.
I love that it is on every night and can’t get enough.
But when someone who literally boasts the nickname Mr Cricket says something, you have to sit up and take notice.
And Mr Cricket — former Australian player Mike Hussey — is uncertain whether the Big Bash can maintain the interest of cricket fans around the country throughout its new longer season.
This season the Big Bash has expanded from 10 games per team to a full home and away competition meaning each franchise plays 14 games.
The questions is with 16 extra games added to the schedule can the Big Bash continue to be the success story for Cricket Australia it has been so far?
Fox Cricket commentator and former Sydney Thunder captain Hussey told a recent Cricket Unfiltered Podcast that he is concerned about “interest waning towards the back end of the season”, while admitting he felt last season was already a touch too long.
Here are three big challenges which the Big Bash needs to address to maintain its place as one of the world’s elite sporting competitions.
Will the crowds keep coming?
The Big Bash season now extends into mid-February and there remains a question of whether the competition can continue to attract large crowds.
Hussey worries that “as far as fans go and families, you can’t afford to go to every single game, we want to see big crowds coming to the ground to support the teams”.
Last season the average crowd was 26,531 and this season so far the average crowd has been down almost 5000 per game to 21,596. Just 10,508 people attended a Christmas Eve fixture in Sydney between the Thunder and Sixers, a derby match -p that normally attracts bumper crowds.
Traditionally big crowds attend games during the school holidays but now it would seem there is some doubt as to whether the strong crowds will turn out in February.
Where are the international superstars?
More games and a limited salary cap combined with better opportunities in richer T20 leagues is meaning BBL clubs are finding it harder to attract the range of superstar cricketers that used to come over summer.
T20 stars Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell and David Miller all preferred to sign for a Dubai T20 league that failed to go ahead rather than play in the Big Bash.
There are some top-class imports including Rashid Khan and DJ Bravo but certainly not as many as in years past.
Let’s hope next summer a few more elect to play here ahead of the T20 World Cup being held in Australia.
Do we need to look at the pitches?
Big Bash fans love big hits, big scores and big sixes but at the moment some of the pitches are giving the bowlers the advantage and allowing them to dominate the contests.
The pitches at Spotless Stadium in Sydney and Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, in particular, are robbing the crowds of the hyper-charged entertainment they have some to expect from the T20 game with the ball sometimes hardly bouncing.
The Big Bash needs the curators around the country to produce pitches with even bounce and good pace otherwise the spectacle is diminished as the batsmen struggle to score.
The longer and larger Big Bash is posing a few questions which might have clearer answers by February. Let’s see.