Four games into the tenth season of the Big Bash and the interest of the tournament has gone for me.
When the BBL began in 2011, it was meant to pioneer a generation of new cricket fans in Australia. And it worked well.
The tournament went in between the school holidays around Australia, and the final would be played by the end of week one of the new school term.
But now, the tournament keeps on dwindling away from quality and focusing on gimmicks, which aren’t required in the BBL.
With BBL08 copying the IPL in terms of a 14-game regular season for each team, the lack of crowds was glaringly obvious to see on TV screens.
With the tournament going from mid-December into mid-February, fans and players were clearly frustrated, with players such as Sandeep Lamichhane playing a whole season in the 2019 Bangladesh Premier League before coming back to play the rest of BBL08.
BBL09 was lengthened into a 61-game season, with golden caps introduced for the leading run scorer and the leading wicket taker.
Again, the biggest problem was not aligning the tournament with the end of week one of the new term. In fact, there was a five-day gap between the Knockout and the Challenger. How is anyone meant to keep interest in a T20 tournament if there’s a five-day gap between games?
When Cricket Australia announced that BBL10 would have a maximum of three overseas players in each playing XI, the competition finally seemed to be heading towards the right direction. But then came the three rules that still make no sense to me.
First, there’s the power surge where the mandatory powerplay is reduced from the first six overs to the first four, with the power surge of two overs set to be used after the 11th over by the batting side.
Then there’s the bash boost. Whichever team scores more runs after ten overs receives a bonus point. And finally, the X factor player, where the 12th and 13th man can sub in for a batsman who hasn’t faced a ball or a bowler who hasn’t bowled more than one over after the tenth over of each innings.
Having seen parts of the four BBL games so far, none of the new rules make sense nor have they had any great significance towards improving the quality of the Big Bash.
As Usman Khawaja tweeted last month, the BBL has been used to introduce a new set of cricket fans. So how does complicating the rules in a sport that is hard to explain to non-cricket fans make any sense?
The lack of focus on what made the BBL successful in the past will cost CA heavily. I’ve been following the BBL since its inception, but this season I’ve preferred to watch the India A versus Australia A tour game and the New Zealand versus West Indies Test series over the BBL.
While I highly doubt it’ll happen next season, here is the best way to get the BBL to the great heights it was from BBL03-BBL07. • 40-game regular season with each team playing ten games • Four playoff games (Qualifier 1, Eliminator, Qualifier 2, Final) • Align the whole BBL from the last week of the term in December to the end of week one of the new term • Get rid of the three rules introduced from BBL10 • Three foreigners in the playing XI to attract interest from overseas • Introduce DRS so that howlers are removed
Cricket is a game of 11 versus 11, not 13 versus 13. If Cricket Australia wants the BBL to compete with other T20 leagues, then they need to stop bringing in more gimmicks and focus more on improving the quality of the tournament.