Big Bash: The Melbourne Stars have once again let the occasion get to them, losing 4 wickets within the first five overs of their innings in the Big Bash Final.
Waleed Aly took aim at the BBL on ABC's Offsiders.Source:Twitter
Television personality and journalist Waleed Aly has savaged the Big Bash League’s scheduling, claiming the T20 tournament has “fallen on its face” and become a “nullity”.
Attendance for the cricket competition has reduced considerably since its extension in 2018, with the average crowd size dropping over 30% in two years, Austadiums revealed.
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The recent finals featured a dramatically lower attendance than previous seasons, with a pitiful average of 13,342 per match — not including Saturday’s rain-affected final at the SCG which didn’t look like it would go ahead until an hour after play was scheduled to start.
Finals matches were also scheduled for the latter time of 7:40pm on school nights, presumably to avoid coinciding with new episodes of Home And Away.
In the 2017/18 season, 129,990 cricket fans passed through the turnstiles for the three finals matches, but a total aggregate of only 63,489 bothered attending this season’s final five fixtures.
AVERAGE ATTENDANCE FOR BBL FINALS
BBL05 (2015/16) — 42,181
BBL06 (2016/17) — 25,641
BBL07 (2017/18) — 43,330
BBL08 (2018/19) — 22,854
BBL09* (2019/20) — 13,342
* Does not include rain-affected final at SCG
Speaking on ABC’s Offsiders, Aly suggested the decreasing popularity of the Big Bash is due to the bizarre scheduling, which included the men’s national squad flying to India in early January.
“The tournament has fallen on its face, because it ceases to be part of the rhythm of summer, in the way that it was in its heyday, probably a few years ago,” Aly said.
“I remember that routine. The national team was on free-to-air; you’d get to the end of that day and you’d roll into the Big Bash. You might have to change the channel, but you would still roll into it. It was part of that routine.
“For me, this whole tournament has become … a nullity, and I think part of the reason for that is that it feels like the summer of cricket’s not around.”
Cricket journalist Gideon Haigh quickly disagreed, arguing the tournament is still thriving, and is merely recovering from an “astonishing” honeymoon period.
“I don’t agree with that … It had an astonishing, astronomical peak in 2016/17 and it has since stabilised to something that is more sustainable,” Haigh replied.
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who has commentated the Big Bash for over six years, has noticed growing contempt among the tournament’s players.
“You need the players to be talking the tournament up all the time … the last couple of years there’s been a slightly negative tone from the players about how long the tournament is,” Ponting told ABC Grandstand on Saturday.
It’s hard to disagree with the cricket legend — multiple former and current BBL players have called for the competition’s length to be reduced, so it can conclude before school returns in late January. However, the current TV broadcast deal does not allow for a decrease in matches for three more years.
Fox Cricket commentator Shane Warne called the BBL season “too long” during The Challenger on Thursday.
“I believe is too long, it’s still a couple of weeks too long — I think you could probably condense it,” Warne said.
Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell wants to BBL reduced to 10 matches per team.Source:Getty Images
Melbourne Stars captain Glenn Maxwell agreed, suggesting the players enjoyed the T20 competition before the expansion in 2018.
“I think the length of the tournament when it was 10 games, I think we all really enjoyed that. I think it was the perfect amount,” Maxwell said on SEN.
“I just think 14 games is just a little bit much. It just makes for a very long tournament and probably goes for a touch too long.”
“It makes it a bit more difficult to keep the interest levels going until the end.”
Zampa echoed his skipper’s comments on Wednesday, calling the BBL crowds “disappointing”.
“The length of it is quite long and it’s disappointing to turn up to a semi-final and only have 13,000 people,” Zampa said.
“The length of the Big Bash isn’t probably helping that, to be honest. Obviously kids are back at school and it’s a school night.
Former Test cricketer Matthew Hayden, who featured in Sunday’s Bushfire Bash, also called for the BBL to finish earlier in the summer.
“It does tend to lose a bit of interest when we come out of our Christmas slumber — to finish when a majority of people are still going to watch would be a good change,” Hayden said on Wednesday.