Even as the India tour of Australia is set to get underway, the Australian spectators and even their own cricketers cannot shy away from continuing to address the tweaks that have been made to their domestic Twenty20 tournament.
The Big Bash League 2020 is set to undergo three changes according to Cricket Australia and not everyone back home in Australia is taking to the changes like to fish to water. It could be argued that the BBL, aiming to Australia’s successful version of the Indian Premier League, has gone the desperate way in a bid to turn around its viewership numbers.
And fans and cricketers think the rules only complicate and thereby, dilute the game.
The draw ability of the BBL still stems, not unlike Twenty20 tournaments around the world, on its ability to attract foreign cricketers who are household names. It has become a vehicle like others, for older cricketers, some retired, to join in the venture. However, the BBL has not quite had the success that the IPL has had, their numbers even dipping in the course of the past two seasons.
However, it seems the BBL’s attempt to recapture audiences is falling flat with their decision to bring in changes such as adding points to the team chasing for being over the run measure of the team batting first at the ten over the mark, allowing the 12th man (X factor) to substitute any player beyond the 10th over and making the number of powerplay over staggered as part of its power surge move has not won over fans, yet anyway.
It will not be until the game takes to the field until the rules are put to the popularity test based on whether these changes will have a sticky quality to them. However, there has been a lot of pushback already even from some of their own cricketers about how the BBL is missing the whole point about regaining lost spectators, particularly as the world recovers from a pandemic and cricket needs every impetus.
One of the reasons that has made the IPL as successful as it has been having not only to do with the fact that the rules have remained fairly unchanged since its inception but also, because of its ability to draw in a fair mix of international spectators as well with foreign cricketers thrown in with established Indian cricketers as well as young Indian rookies looking to make a name for themselves.
While the BBL had welcomed the initiative to add a third overseas player to the team and therefore, make the BBL more like the IPL, in terms of capturing international audiences, the consensus before the tournament itself seems to be that this is an unnecessary, inconvenient tweaking of the rules that might send the BBL further away from fans who might want to simply watch a quality match than being overburdened by the rules.
Has the BBL done the right thing, particularly as some Australian cricketers are pulling away citing bio bubble issues? Only time will tell.