Five years ago, with the BBL in its infancy, Cricket Australia could only have dreamed of seeing 80,000 fans file into the MCG to see two Melbourne sides go at it hammer and tong. With the state v state concept beginning to wane, the Bash was lacking its all-important prefix. Games were played out in front of empty grandstands while T20 leagues around the world started to gather considerable momentum. Australian domestic cricket was falling behind.
The consequential shakeup of the Australian domestic T20 competition over the following years was met with an unprecedented reception.
In the midst of its fifth edition since turning franchise, the BBL has become the summers’ biggest hit.
The Big Bash League’s impetuous growth is a testament to the brand created over the past 5 seasons. It has far surpassed the corruption riddled IPL as the world’s number one T20 competition off the back of gripping, entertaining contests.
A modern generation cricket fans’ transient attention is captured by balls sailing into the second tier – or in some cases, Dan Christian, out of the stadium. The 52,000 strong crowd at the Adelaide Oval on NYE were incited by a Travis Head knock that is independent of the T20 format. Individual performances to the tune of 53 in 15 balls are seldom seen in Test and One Day cricket these days.
The NYE game won’t be remembered for the premature fireworks display, but rather the last ditch escapades of Travis Head.
Beyond the commercial benefits of T20, the Big Bash is the ideal breeding ground to christen young cricketers. A franchise based competition pits them against the best Australia and the world have to offer. They have the opportunity to rub shoulders with established imports over a 5-week period gaining an insight into the demands of international cricket.
Amongst other things, it offers exposure to a highly profitable international market where young players can hone their skills in a number of different pro T20 leagues. Becoming accustom to overseas conditions goes a long way to changing the current home-dominated state of international cricket.
Most importantly, raising a cricketer in a hostile arena is ideal in developing the think skinned nature that is a prerequisite for any Australian player. Nothing equips you more than a portly gentleman leaning over the boundary fence and politely telling you how ‘poorly’ your bowling tonight.
Yes, the BBL has uncovered the formula to developing a well-backed, successful competition – one that is fan orientated rather than commercially driven. By mixing cricket with 80’s rock ballads and flamethrowers, the Big Bash brings a festival atmosphere to every night.
Who knows, the BBL may soon rise to become as highly anticipated as the major football codes every year.