The current BBL finals system needs to change.
Since BBL|01 the finals system has been 2 knockout semis finals, 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd with the higher ranked team having home ground advantage. The winners of these two semi finals then meet in the final.
To play an 8 game season, finish in top place with 2 or 3 more wins than 4th (a mid table placing in a competition of 8 teams) and be eliminated straight away as happened to the Renegades in BBL|02 and to the Strikers in BBL|04, left some to question the purpose of the regular season.
Critics have said the finals structure is unfairto the top team, others have said stop complaining and win finals – problem solved.
To appease some of these concerns, for BBL|03 the team that finished on top of the table after the regular season was awarded one of the two available BBL places at the lucrative Champions League T20 competition.
With the Champions League now gone, the value, financial at very least, of finishing on top of the table is now also gone.
Using a final four system outlined below provides a fairer way to determine the best team. It also provides an additional match, sure to be welcomed by broadcasters, adds no extra days to the BBL competition and spaces the finals and venues nicely to maximise attendance at the games.
Firstly the BBL|05 regular season ends on Monday January 18, this game would need to be shifted to New Years Day creating a double header on that day. Surprisingly there is not a 4pm & 7pm double header on New Years day already, the BBL should really be looking to ‘own’ this public holiday- free of Test cricket – with a double or even triple header but that’s another story. Moving the match on Monday January 18 would mean the BBL regular season would end on Saturday January 16.
The finals structure would be as follows, using this years dates (structured as they are around the Australia v India ODI series on Sunday January 17, Wednesday January 20 and Saturday January 23.)
Monday January 18, Game 1: 3rd v 4th
Tuesday January 19, Game 2: 1st v 2nd
The winner of Game 2 would win the hosting rights of the BBL final whilst the loser would host the winner of Game 1 in a preliminary final.
Friday January 22, Game 3: Loser Game 2 v Winner Game 1
The winner of this match would then proceed to meet the winner of Game 2 in the Final.
Sunday January 24, Final: Winner Game 2 v Winner Game 3
This provides 1st and 2nd with a ‘double chance’ – they can lose the first match but have a second chance to make it to the final. AFL/VFL football fans will probably know this as the McIntyre Final 4 system. This final four system and similar final five system have been used in recent seasons of the IPL, so they are not unheard of in T20 cricket.
A final four structured as above would reward the team that finishes on top of the table with a double chance and two home finals wether they win or lose their first final. This system is fairer and would also create a BBL finals week with an additional game, it would also build toward the BBL final which at present feels a little rushed with the semi finals on Thursday and Friday and the final on Sunday leaving very little time to build up publicity and media for the final. Under this system the team hosting the BBL final would be known on the Tuesday night 5 days before the final.