7. Champions League T20 is a scheduling pain.
In 2013 the Ryobi Cup moved to a month long, single city tournament at the start of the season with the number of matches per team cut from 10 to 8 to 6 over the last 2 years. Although people are quick to blame the Big Bash for scheduling issues in Australian cricket, in this case I’m going to say the BBL is not the problem. The real problem is the Champions League T20 held annually in late September to early October. With Perth and Brisbane competing this year (for a glorious 0 wins from 8 games between them) WA and Queensland didn’t start their Ryobi Cup campaigns until half way through the tournament and played their 6 games in 12 days. Without the Champions League the states could have played 10 games each in the Ryobi Cup, maintaining the number of games that have been played for the last decade. After all their are 50 over World Cups in 2015 and 2019.
Already the players are asking for two blocks of one day games at the start of the season and after the Big Bash, so they can press for Australian ODI spots. If the Champions League remains in early October it remains difficult to see how this can be accommodated.
6. Player movements
The modern first class cricketer doesn’t bother with state of birth loyalties. In one South Australia v Tasmania game there were two Tasmanian born players (Paine and Hilfenhaus) against four South Australian born players (Cooper, Weaver, Richardson, George) with most of the interlopers coming from either New South Wales or Victoria. Not to be out done, the next day Victoria sent out a team featuring two Western Australians (Rogers, D Hussey), two New South Welshman (Hastings, Christian) and a Tasmanian (Wade). Certainly Cricket Australia’s plans to free up the movement of players between states to get the best 66 cricketers playing against one another is working.
5. Bad actions
Doug Bollinger threw the ball at a Queensland batsmen and copped a 1 match suspension. Adam Zampa got an official reprimand but it remains unclear if it was for his actions on the cricket field or for his Nathan Bracken style shoelace around the head when he doesn’t have long hair. Tom Cooper was lucky to escape some hip pocket hurt after hitting a six into a parked car at Bankstown Oval but didn’t escape sanction for swearing in the dressing room. Yes he swore so loudly the umpires heard him out in the middle. Ben Laughlin also got a slap for being a naughty boy: six slower balls per over is just not cricket. Unsurprisingly Johan Botha was reported again for a dodgy bowling action, even less surprising the biomechanics testing cleared him. Why South Australia recruited him has still got me beat.
4. Players missing
Three batsmen Joe Burns, Peter Forrest and Luke Pomersbach didn’t front for Queensland – didn’t hurt their line up too much though. Last season’s NSW captain, spinner Steve O’Keefe, couldn’t command a regular spot with Nathan Lyon preferred. For the second consecutive season allrounder Luke Butterworth was completely overlooked by the Tigers with Evan Gulbis preferred. Strangely Jason Krejza wasn’t missed by Tasmania. Victoria couldn’t find a spot for Fawad Ahmed through the middle of the tournament and Andrew McDonald only made a fleeting batsmen only appearance for South Australia. On the flip side Simon Katich returned to Australian 50 over cricket and didn’t miss a beat being a valuable contributor in his 4 games for WA in what was a shaky batting line up – never has a team missed Adam Voges, away on national duty, so badly.
John Hastings managed to miss the spot to bowl fairly convincingly by sending down a succession of waist high full tosses which the Bulls Ben Cutting gleefully sent sailing over the fence on his way to 98* off 45 balls in the Victoria v Queensland match. It’s hard to imagine The Duke played test cricket 12 months ago. But the worst player miss in the Ryobi cup was Kane Richardson, whose missed runout cost South Austrlia a win over Tasmania. The school boy error has to be seen to be believed.
3. Coverage GEMs
Cricket Australia paid Channel 9 $800,000 to televise the Ryobi cup on their digital channel GEM yet at the smae time revoked the radio rights of the ABC to provide ball by ball radio coverage. Bizzare. The commentators on GEM ranged from the articulate and insightful – Tom Moody, Glen McGrath & Mark Taylor – to the opposite end of the spectrum, the trio of Doug Bollinger, Tim Gilbert and Brad McNamara. The special form of torture endured by listening to Gilbert and McNamara had viewers yearning for the inane nonsense Michael Slater, Ian Healy & James Brayshaw pass off as cricket commentary.
Stuart Clark was making a good fist of putting himself in the former category of commentators until he managed to work from umpire Paul Wilson’s moustache to a cross promotional plug for an interview with Chopper Read on 60 minutes that night. Can you go any lower? Yes you can! In a particularly desperate promo effort during a Tasmania v South Australia game the crowd of Ed Cowan’s dad and an old bloke with a dog was suddenly swelled by a dozen or so teenage boys. Soon the boys were tucking into a dozen or so pizzas and not long after appeared shirtless on the boundary fence with the slogan “WeLoveGEMCricket!” zinced on the respective chests. Desperate much? The “Love” was represented by a heart symbol which, when zinced on a chest, looked remarkably like a dick and balls. Dictation you might say.
2. Dave Warner is in good form
Dave Warner made headlines after the first week of the tournament by missing a days fielding in Sydney grade cricket to go to the races. He said he was preparing for the upcoming game against Victoria – he made a duck. Fortunately things brightened for Warner as he rattled up a pair of scores in the 130’s within four days and blasted an amazing 197 in the elimination final against Victoria. In total he managed 541 runs at a strike rate of 116. Strangley he was overlooked for Man of the Tournament with the award going to Cameron White.
1. The XI of the tournament
1. Dave Warner (New South Wales)
Warner worked into majestic form with 3 scores over 130 including a 197 to win the elimination final for NSW.
2. Usman Khawaja (Queensland)
Usman Khawaja improved as the tournament progressed knocking up 3 x 60’s then an 80 odd before nailing a century in the final.
3. Michael Klinger (South Australia)
South Australia’s Michael Klinger continues to pile up the runs at domestic level, his best was 140* – carrying his bat in a losing cause.
4. Cameron White (Victoria)
Cam White returned to the form that saw him a fixture in the Australian ODI team.
5. Steve Smith (New South Wales)
Steve Smith shouldered the responsibility of batting No 3 and skippering NSW producing 4 half centuries.
6. Matthew Wade (Victoria)
Matthew Wade had his usual share of dropsies, par for the course really, but did make some runs.
7. Evan Gulbis (Tasmania)
Evan Gulbis showed he could cut it at this level with runs up and down the order and wickets.
8. Ben Cutting (Queensland)
Ben Cutting delivered when it mattered with ball or bat, including a whirlwind innings to wrap up the final.
9. Sean Abbott (New South Wales)
Sean Abbott impressed with the most wickets for the tournament,16.
10. Adam Tye (Western Australia)
Western Australian debutante beanpole paceman Adam Tye impressed with 13 wickets at an average of 19.
11. Jon Holland (Victoria)
Jon Holland was the best performed spinner in the tournament
Did I miss anything? Let me know with a comment below.