Even as Australia struggle to match up to the competitive levels they once dominated, it appears that their attention has been usurped, emulating the unhealthy aspects of the Indian Premier League to their own Big Bash League.
Even before India’s tour of Australia, disgruntlement ruled supreme about the adjustments being made to Australia’s domestic cricket calendar and schedule to accommodate BCCI’s own for the touring Indian team. Naturally frustrated with Australia’s perpetual capitulation with the bat and their inability to consistently put runs on board, there was concern amongst the Australian cricket fraternity that the players were not being given the full course to work themselves back into form and serious contention by competing at the start of Australia’s cricket season, given their Southern Hemisphere geographic location.
However, it is not just the influential boards and touring teams that have upset the Australian apple cart when it comes to domestic cricket. If anything, there is concern to the extent that some former coaches including Darren Lehmann have provided alternate version of how the Australian cricket season to could work the domestic first class season into the Big Bash League schedule to space out Australia’s cricket agenda plans.
As it turns out the same bug that bit the BCCI more than a decade ago is already taking its toll on Australia’s cricket and cricket loving fans even though it is only now that the Big Bash League, Australia’s version of the Indian Premier League, has decided to extend its tentacles and play more matches, raising its original scale from forty-three matches to fifty-nine matches, something it hopes will become the norm stretching over two months, which is the present grouse with the IPL even as it is a money spinner for the Indian cricket board.
What seems strange is that the Australian cricket fraternity, the same one that raised hue and cry about how the BCCI was usurping Australia’s opportunity to lead their opening days into the cricket season in a more systematic fashion and affecting their Test cricket rebuilding opportunities are now silent pall bearers to what is becoming a worrying trend, particularly at a time when Australia is looking desperately for a revival of fortunes and their culture and ethics have come under the sternest tests in the wake of the ball tampering scandal last year which was really in many ways a culmination of misdemeanours creeping into the Australian cricket ethos.
Even as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) proposes introducing a newer version of the short game with ‘The Hundred’ – its own IPL version never having really taken off from conception to reality, Australia is not only having to deal with soaring summer temperatures but also, the fact that there is a greater glut of Twenty20 now in their own den even though the numbers paint a different picture where the BBL appears to have lost some of its sheen with the cricket loving, Australian crowd. To think that they can even compare the Big Bash League with their other mainstream sports such as the football or rugby league seems like a serious distortion of perception given that Test cricket is supposed to be the mainstream representation of cricket – domestic cricket the vehicle and platform for it – and not Twenty20.