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.
Miscellaneous charity matches, tour matches and other oddities
1. Bushfire Appeal Match, NSW Invitational XI v South Africa, SCG, 18 January 1994
This match was played for the victims of the Sydney bushfires that raged from January 6 to 10, 1994.
The New South Wales Invitational XI was pretty close to an Australian line up with the top 6 featuring Taylor, Slateer, M Waugh, S Waugh and a young Michael Bevan. The ‘Invitational’ part was the fact that two non-New SOuth Welshamn bolstered the ranks.
The ring ins were Australian captain Allan Border who, despite being born, raised and making his first class debut for NSW was, by this time, a proud Queenslander and Merv Hughes. Yes staunchly Victorian Merv Hughes played for New South Wales – hard to imagine!
The only player within the NSW side not to play for Australia at some stage in their career was 1993 Ashes tourist and fast bowling cult hero, Wayne ‘Cracker’ Holdsworth.
This match was played as a fund raiser for the Red Cross Appeal for the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009.
Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor captained there respective sides in this T20 match using pink balls. The teams were made up of cricketers past and present both male and female plus footballers form various codes, a couple of pro surfers and Shannon Noll and Peter Garrett.
Despite the cause and big names playing in the match it wasn’t televised.
TAYLOR XI: Mark Taylor , Michael Slater, Lisa Sthalekar, Mick Fanning, Beau Casson, Lote Tuqiri, Joel Parkinson, Barry Hall, Matthew Burke, Anthony Minichiello, Moises Henriques, Jay Marmont. Coaches: Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley.
WAUGH XI: Steve Waugh , Shannon Noll, Ellyse Perry, Anthony Mundine, Peter Garrett, Braith Anasta, Phil Waugh, Robbie Farah, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, John Aloisi, David Warner, Nathan Bracken. Coach: Robbie Deans.
3. Bradman XI v England, Bradman Oval, Bowral, 8 January 2003
Mark Waugh never had a testimonial match when he was omitted form the 2002/03 Ashes squad and promptly announced his retirement from international cricket in October 2002.
Waugh continued to play for NSW and turned this tour match against England into his own tribute match, captaining the side and producing a mach winning century.
With this match played just 2 days after the 5th test England rested most of it’s Test players and was captained by allrounder Ronnie Irani, who had an infamous 2002/03 one day series. Batting first England made 8/279 of their 50 overs.
Defying poor light and playing through light mist he compiled an unbeaten 108 to lead the Bradman XI to victory.
Waugh brought up his century off 92 balls with a six over extra cover off the hapless Irani. In near darkness, Waugh closed the match with another six, this one off the gentle bowling of Nick Knight.
The Bradman XI is or was a curious team. They played each touring England team at Bradman Oval in Bowral between 1990 and 2003 but only played one other touring side – South Africa in 1998.
4. Australian Country XI, 1986 – 2003
Each January the best country cricketers from each state compete against one another in a 10 day championship. The NSW country XI play the Victorian Country XI and the Queensland Country XI and so on. At the end of the carnival the Australian Country XI is named.
This continues to the present day with the Australian Country Championships held in Bendigo in January 2015.
From 1986 to 2003 the reward for being named in the Australian Country XI was a match against one of the international touring teams usually in a regional centre. If the touring teams were not available the Country XI had to settle for a match against a state side.
30 overs in, India was cruising toward victory chasing a small target but then rain intervened and brought an end to the game. The ‘highest scoring overs’ formula to be used in the World Cup, the Country XI’s best 30 scoring overs were combined to leave India 25 runs short of victory.
Perhaps then alarm bells should have been ringing about the dangers of the highest scoring overs rule for rain affected matches.
As an aside on the venue, the Lake Oval was the home of South Melbourne Football Club (now Sydney Swans) until 1981 and South Melbourne Cricket Club until 1994.
Two years after the World Cup warm up match the cricket was banished from the Lake Oval with the cricket pitch removed and the ground redeveloped into a soccer stadium for South Melbourne Hellas.
5. Prime Minister’s XI v ATSIC Chairman’s XI, 2001, 2002, 2003
The annual Prime Ministers XI one day match against an international touring team held at Manuka Oval in Canberra is well known and dates back to 1951 with matches played regularly since 1984.
What is less well known that the only other matches the Prime Ministers XI played an annual one day match against an Indigenous team, the Australian and Torres Straight Islanders Commission Chairman’s XI in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
The first match in 2001 was played as a Centenary of Federation event to commemorate the 1868 Aboriginal team that was the first representative team from Australia to tour England. It was the brainchild of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairman Geoff Clark and was embraced by the Prime Minister John Howard, who hosted the teams at the Lodge.
The inaugural match for the Johnny Mullagh Trophy was a 40 over match played on April 19th, 2001 at Manuka Oval. The PM’s XI was captained by Steve Waugh and included Belinda Clark and Joe Hockey (who made a golden duck.) The ATSIC Chairman’s XI, captained by Jason Gillespie and including Kyle Vander Kuyp and Geoff Clark, successfully chased 195 in the 40th over for victory.
The second installment on March 8th 2002 was also at Manuka Oval but didn’t feature Australian players with the PM’s XI made up of first class cricketers and the ATSIC Chairman’s XI contained indigenous players.
The third match on March 21 2003 was held at Adelaide Oval with Mark Cosgrove scoring a century to lead the PM’s XI to victory.
Despite promising it would be an annual event on the cricket calendar and a showcase for reconciliation the Prime Minister’s XI v ATSIC Chairman’s XI cricket match was short lived because the Government decided to scrap ATSIC in 2004.
6. Old Australia XI v Old England XI, April 1988
Before the charity and testimonial matches and the ‘masters’ tours of the 1990’s the Old England XI toured Australia to play three matches against an Old Australia XI in April 1988.
The Old England XI featured names like Bob Woolmer, Tony Grieg, Derek Underwood and Bob Willis whilst the Old Australia XI contained the recently retired Greg Chappell, Rod Marsh and Denis Lillee plus Doug Walters, Max Walker and Kerry O’Keefe. Curiously the Old Australia XI also included 33 year old David Hookes who was still playing first class cricket for South Australia.
The timing was a little odd, the 6 month cricket season has just concluded by April and most sports fans thoughts have turned to football codes by this time of year.
7. Beach Cricket, January 2007, 2008 & 2009
In a made for TV product, Channel 10 launched the XXXX Gold Beach Cricket Tri-series in January 2007. Matches played at beaches around Australia with teams featuring retired players from years past.
The 2007 series featured Australia, England and West Indies with England victorious and matches played at Scarborough beach Perth, Coolangatta beach on the Gold Coast and Maroubra beach in Sydney.
In 2008 the competing nations were Australia, England and New Zealand and Glenelg Beach in Adelaide
By 2009 all matches were played at Coolangatta beach on the Gold Coast with New Zealand having he better of Australia and South Africa.
It is interesting to note that the commentators used by Channel 10 for their beach cricket coverage were Andy Maher and Mark Howard, the same commentators that are now used in the networks Big Bash coverage. Was Beach Cricket a trial run for getting the Big Bash onto Channel 10?
Luke Feldman – injured in last Shield match. Not sure when he will be available.
Marcus Stoinis – I’m hearing he has broken a finger no word on a replacement player as yet
Peter Handscomb – injured a finger and will be out for 3 weeks replaced by Tom Triffit from the Supplementary list.
Glenn Maxwell and probably Cameron White will be called up for ODI duty at the back end of the season, but it really shouldn’t cause too much concern for the Stars given the depth and quality of their squad.
The Stars went all out in October announcing the signing Alex Keath, Marcus Stoinis and James Muirhead to multi year deals. In November they then traded 22 year old Muirhead to Perth Scorchers in return for 31 year old Michael Beer. It’s been a topsy turvey year for Muirhead – selected to play for T20 Australia in January, World T20 in March, sign an extension at your club in October then be traded out in November. Bizzare.
The Stars have moved smartly on their internationals, and selected two English players, Luke Wright and Kevin Peitersen who are out of favour with the national set up and therefore will be available for the entire tournament. Luke Wright is a proven BBL performer add to that the Big Cheese, sorry, Big Dog, KP and it equals ego time at the MCG. Kevin is a winner so he will want to win the BBL, the World Cup will pale in comparison for Kevin, because Kevin is all about Kevin. Good luck! The loss of Brad Hodge probably won’t even be felt with a middle order of KP, Glen Maxwell and Dave Hussey.
The squad is full of Australian representatives. Look for James Faulkner to be given extra responsibilities as the number one allrounder, and the back ups outside the XI are pretty handy too – Rob Quiney and Clint McKay for example.
Clive Rose is a handy back up spin option to Michael Beer. Jackson Bird is on the return form injury and Queensland Luke Feldman joins the sqaud – on his 4th BBL team in just 4 seasons: Hurricanes, Sixers, Thunder and now Stars – joins the squad.
I expect Dave Hussey to play the sinker role as perfected by Simon Katich – ie sinking down the order so that he doesn’t bat and giving more oportunities to young bucks like Faulkner and Marcus Stoinis when he recovers from his broken finger
The wicket keeping position is the only one presenting any issues with Matthew Wade departing and Peter Handscomb a ready made replacement until he broke his finger. Former WA and Tasmanian keeper Tom Triffit has been drafted in as a replacement until Handscombe regains fitness.
With the amount of Australian representatives at their disposals the Stars have been big underachievers in the BBL despite regualrly being pre tournament favourites. This year with regular internationals I’m predicting they will improve but not enough to win the Big Bash.
Jayde Herrick – injured his back and replaced by Andrew Fekete from the Supplementary list.
International duties will hit the Renegades particularly with their inspirational captain Aaron Finch available only for the first half of the season. Fortunately the Renegades have strengthened their top order batting with Callum Ferguson crossing the border form Adelaide and Matthew Wade crossing the CBD from the Melbourne Stars.
Tom Cooper and Ben Rhorer, who has recovered from a head knock in early November, are the middle order mainstays. From the practice matches it seems Wade will have the keeping gloves, but don’t be surprised if the keeper for the past two seasons, Peter Neville plays as a batsmen only given his intelligent middle order batting.
Dwayne Bravo returns and brings fellow Windies all-rounder Andre Russell ‘The Love Muscle’. The West Indies depart for World Cup preparations in January but Jesse Ryder will be available for the remainder of the tournament as he has missed out on the New Zealand World Cup squad of 30. He shapes as a likely candidate to replace Aaron Finch at the top of the order.
Peter Siddle being dropped from the Test team is a bonus for the Renegades, but it remains to be seen how many games James Pattinson will play in his carefully managed comeback from a back injury. Nathan Rimmington is the constant of the pace bowlers and Nicholas Winter is a rookie paceman from South Australia.
Andrew Fekete replaces Jayde Herrick and the Half Volleys – It could be career over for the cult hero with the shaved bongo, headband and tattoos who was the poster boy of the Renegades last season but broke down with injury in the first match and wasn’t seen again. Herrick moved to Tasmania seeking opportunities after he was cut by Victoria at the end of last season but to date is yet to add to his first class career. His current back injury could mean curtains on his career.
Muttiah Muralitharan is a big loss but leg spinner Fawad Ahmed is ready to step out of his shadow and onto the big stage. Aaron O’Brien provides variety with his off spin.
Feel good story of BBL|03 Zimbabwean rookie Solomon Mire has returned to Zimbabwe and might be seen here during the World Cup. The Renegades back up batsmen are Alex Doolan, former Perth Scorcher Tom Beaton and young Victorian Matthew Short, who also bowls a bit of off spin.
The backbone of the Renegades line up are heading into their third season together now (Finch, Cooper, Rhorer, Neville, Rimmington, O’Brien) and the squad has definitely been strengthened in the top order batting but it remains to be seen how the Renegades can cover the losses of the West Indies allrounders and Aaron Finch come the business end of the season.
Hobart present a very experienced line up and have recruited well on the international player’s front. Alex Hales is a destructive top order batsmen when he gets going and Hobart did well to prise him away from the Strikers. Darren Sammy can hit a long ball and will bring a lot of showbiz to proceedings, he also brings some new rhyming slang to the warm ups, ‘Don’t forget to stretch your Darren Sammys (hammys)’ Hobart have done well to secure a like for like replacement for Sammy in the form of England’s Tim Bresnan.
The line up includes two recent T20 international debutantes Ben Dunk and leg spinner Cameron Boyce plus Hobart performed strongly at the Champions League T20 in September with a similar line up. It will be interesting to see who takes the gloves for Hobart. Tim Paine is the incumbent, but Dunk kept for Australia in November’s T20 internationals. And will Hobart play both Paine and Dunk? Paine was recently dropped from the Shield line up and Dunk handed the gloves.
Dunk has been in career best form so far this summer, blasting a double century in the Matador Cup and earning national T20 honours. He was player of the tournament ion BBL|03 and Hobart will be hoping for more of the same at the top of the order this season.
The top 6 look set and ready to fire but Hobart will be hoping Travis Birt can recapture his form from BBL|02. None of the top 6 bowl so there may be a need to bring in another bowler and promote allrounder Evan Gulbis higher up the order. All rounder Luke Butterworth is an unfortunate omission from the squad as his career appears to tail off due to injury – this season he has captained the Tasmanian Futures League team.
The Hurricanes will lose Bailey and maybe Hilfenhaus and Doherty to ODI duty but have replacement batsmen and pace bowlers to handle this. Despite losing two quality experienced t20 pacemen in Bollinger and Laughlin they should be able to cover these losses with their international siginings and the younger Sam Rainbird and Joe Mennie. George Bailey will be harder to replace, Tim Paine is a very capable replacement skipper, but the batting options of Michael Hill and Dom Michael haven’t got the runs on the board nor the explosiveness of The Guv.
Timm van der Gugten is one of those guys you go, ’Has this guy really been on the same BBL list for three years and still not played a game?’ And the answer is yes. He’s made more appearances for the Dutch national team than in domestic cricket in Australia. He must have signed a 3 year deal but at just 23 years old time is on his side. Nonetheless there is probably more chance of seeing him playing in the World Cup than the Big Bash, if only the Netherlands had made the World Cup.
This is a very settled and experienced line up that know how to play as a team, plus the international signings fill the deficiencies in the line up nicely. Hobart will be a very hard team to beat and will be astutely lead by The Governor, George Bailey.
The squad looks a bit light on for batting but has plenty of variety in the bowling options with plenty of pace bowlers and 3 spinners to choose from plus a few middle of the road all rounders.
The batting will rely heavily on new recrtuits, Craig Simmons and Brad Hodge. Simmons, who was brought over from the Scorchers following an impressive rags to riches, from Powercor worker to century maker and BBL matchwinner, debut season in BBL|03.
39 year old Brad Hodge is also a massive signing as he continues to be one of the world pre-eminent T20 batsmen in the world. Hodge was in fine form for Wellington in the recently completed Georgie Pie Super Smash the New Zealand T20 competition.
Look for keeper Tim Ludeman to be given more responsibility in the batting order and Kieron Pollard will provide the late innings firepower for the first half of the tournament prior to the Windies departing for World Cup preperations in early January.
South African born Dutch player Ryan ten Doeschate has been the leading all rounder of the Associate nations for a number of seasons and has previously played for the Hobart Hurricanes.
Shaun Tait broke down during his ill-fated retuen to domestic one day cricket in October and it will be interesting to see if he can get through the full 8 game schedule of the BBL.
Adelaide have an indefinite extension to contract to their 18th players following the passing of Phillip Hughes.