The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Cricket Australia to overhaul its Big Bash League schedule, with the Twenty20 competition to be run as a roadshow this summer.
Cricket Australia executive Anthony Everard has pointed to a new sponsorship deal as proof of the BBL’s upside, suggesting fans will embrace the new-look Twenty20 roadshow when it rolls around Australia.
CA remains locked in talks with broadcasters Foxtel and Seven regarding the BBL and other issues.
It has been a fortnight since Seven chief executive James Warburton delivered a stinging rebuke of the governing body and its much-vaunted T20 competition.
CA is desperate to make the tenth edition of the BBL as successful as possible, having vowed to help fund the recruitment of international stars, but the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting all manner of challenges.
One of many changes precipitated by the health crisis is a rejigged schedule broken up into several hubs.
The revamped program, which is yet to be announced, will pack a stack of BBL games into one area for approximately a week and a half before the competition shifts to a new base.
It will give fans a limited window to attend games, also offering administrators more flexibility should there be a coronavirus outbreak in a certain part of Australia.
Everard, who was promoted to his current role of head of fan engagement by Cricket Australia after a highly successful stint as BBL boss during the league’s golden era, noted it is hard to predict what crowds will be like at neutral venues.
“Uncharted waters, but the fundamentals don’t change and we’re still confident that Australian families around the country are going to want to get involved,” Everard said.
“It’ll still be school holidays…it still represents unbelievably good value and great entertainment.
“The BBL is going to be more important this summer than it ever has been in its ten-year history…there’s no more important time for it to provide the entertainment, fun, escapism and relief.”
KFC has extended its naming-rights sponsorship of the BBL for three years, also signing up to support the WBBL and national women’s side.
McDonald’s was among the companies that expressed an interest in the partnership, but Cricket Australia wanted to reward the loyalty of a sponsor that has backed the league since its inception.
“Any time an incumbent partner renews it is a great result, especially at the moment given the current (financial) environment,” Everard said.
“KFC still believe they’re getting great value…the fact they’ve renewed is a great endorsement.”
Everard believed Seven’s recent sledge would not affect broadcaster-player relations, adding the BBL has never regularly featured Australia’s biggest stars.
“Like any broadcaster or partner, what everyone wants to see is a thriving Big Bash,” he said.
“If you look at the BBL objectively over its nine years, one of its unique elements is that it’s not reliant in one particular group of players.”