Posts tagged ‘Big Bash League’

Winning Needs Some Perspective

For the past fortnight in India every newspaper is full of speculation on the Cricket World Cup, and whether the current World Champions can retain their trophy. Turn on the television and there are replays of previous tournaments, interviews with former World Champions, it has been wall to wall cricket as the country works itself up into a frenzy.

There are however some who feel that Australia may well have exposed fans to simply too much cricket prior to the World Cup, with the Test Series with India, The Big Bash League and then the Tri-nation series. Some believe that despite losing to Australia, India should have taken a break from playing ‘down under,’ and the players should have returned home for a couple of weeks break with their families before looking to defend their title.

This brings into question what is the perfect preparation for a tournament such as this. It has now become the norm that all the competing nations have warm up games against each other, games attended usually in the main by those unable to get tickets to the actual world cup games. Games in which neither side wants to reveal too much, saving their best for the tournament itself.

If India is under pressure how must South Africa feel having been warned by their Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula that they better not fail, and forbidding them to ‘become a bunch of losers.’ This comment was made during their official send off.

“we don’t want you in the World Cup to add numbers and just become a bunch of losers.” he was quoted as saying. He went on to say “You are not going to be playing with robots. You are playing with people. You are the special ones. You are the chosen ones. It does not mean you are irreplaceable but all of you are capable of doing the duty for us.”

Not happy with these inspiring words he continued by reminding the team of previous losses at previous World Cups. Proving that he is no Nelson Mandela when it comes to stirring inspirational oratory.

Having already labelled the national football team a bunch of losers a year ago, no doubt his words were water off a duck’s back to the players, but they can hardly have helped their preparation.

One team not expected to win a game is Afghanistan, competing in their first World Cup. Cricket has miraculously skyrocketed in popularity since the Taliban permitted the game to be played in 2000. A year later the ICC welcomed them to international cricket as an affiliate member.

Their preparation has faced a different set of problems as coach Andy Moles, who played for Warwickshire explained. ” I spoke to one of the players who was late to our late camp. I asked him the reason why he and he turned around and told me that he had to go to the funeral of his cousin who was shot dead by a drone.”

It would appear that many teams this time around are having their own set of problems when it comes to preparation for the World Cup, but for the sake of the players and everyone back in war-torn Afghanistan it would be great if sport can show just who wonderful it can be, and they could record a famous and unlikely victory to help the game grow and lift the spirits of the people back home. If they can that will be the equivalent of them winning the cup itself, and will hopefully give the tournament and certain politicians some perspective.

 

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February 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Scorchers and Perth Public Burnt

Perth people are accused of being parochial by many of the other states in Australia, and being the most isolated city in the world that tendency should be forgiven. However lately it feels very much as if this great sporting state is no longer a part of Australia.

In football Perth Glory were snubbed the chance to host the inaugural FFA Cup final, because the game would be too late for the television audiences over East; thanks to Australian Summer time and some states moving the clocks forward and others choosing not to.

Then the state was completely overlooked in everyday when it came to the Asia Cup currently being hosted successfully on the East coast. No ambassadors in Western Australia, no fan parks, and ABC television advertising every Socceroos game live, but then showing it on delay.

Now cricket has to suffer a similar indignity. The Perth Scorchers have been advised that they must play the final of the Big Bash League in Canberra despite earning the right to host the final for the fourth successive season.

Gone will be the support of Western Australian cricket fans and they will have to play in front of a crowd that is bound to have a very strong bias towards the Sydney Sixers. Is this Cricket Australia’s way of saying they want the title to be won by an Eastern States team?

In the first three years of the BBL, the highest-ranked team staged the final. On all three occasions, the Perth Scorchers were that team and hosted the match at the WACA Ground. Home advantage was no help in the first two seasons where they lost to the Sixers and Brisbane Heat before defeating the Hobart Hurricanes last season.

When the Scorchers beat the Melbourne Stars on Sunday, after the top-placed Adelaide Strikers lost to the Sixers on Saturday, it should have been Perth hosting the final at the WACA once again. However it appears that the decision had been made months ago.

Despite the WACA hosting no games until India plays England in the last Tri-Series clash on Friday this week Cricket Australia had booked in the BBL final for Manuka Oval in Canberra.

Cricket Australia has sais via a spokesperson that “It is important to note that staging the BBL Final in the neutral venue of Canberra is a one-off as a result of Australia hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup. Next year, we will revert to the final being played in the home city of the top-qualifying team.”

It does make senses but Western Australians understandably feel ripped off. With no Test match at the WACA why couldn’t a T20 final be played in Perth having won the right? If the WACA knew that this was to be the case, maybe they too are at fault and should have communicated the likelihood of the final being played interstate before the team made it through to the showpiece game. Maybe Cricket Australia could subsidise some airfares for WACA members to make their way to Canberra as an act of goodwill. That however is never likely to happen.

Sporting bodies in Australia need to be aware that Western Australia is beginning to grow tired of being the whipping boy when it comes to live broadcasts and being a part of national competitions. One can sense a backlash from fans coming unless things improve in the next 18 months.

January 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

Underpinning The Top Level

The new year is well under way and football fans have a great deal to look forward to with a World Cup in Brazil. Closer to home they have the new National Premier Leagues to look forward to. A competition that is going to link the top semi-professional leagues around the country.

It is important to remember why this league has come about, it has been forced upon the game in Australia because those running the game at the time Australia was bidding to be accepted into the Asian Football Confederation promised a second tier competition to the A-League by 2013. Hence the unwillingness to listen to the concerns of clubs around the country and the “we’ll adapt as we go approach.” Building something on shifting sands is never a wise decision.

It is interesting to note that the NPL should come into being in 2014, the same year that the Australian Rugby Union will be launching the National Rugby Championship. Although created for very differing reasons, both sports realise that the second tier competition is lacking and that without it the elite teams suffer.

Let us go back to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Australia was on top of the world in sport, maybe not in football just yet but that was just around the corner. Sports science was the buzz word and anyone that worked in the field in Australia was much in demand as the rest of the world clamoured to match a nation that punched well above its weight.

Australia looked to keep one step ahead of the rest of the world as key personnel headed overseas and started running international programs for other nations. One of the innovations was to hive off talented youngsters and keep them in a controlled environment, control their training, eating habits and game time, the idea being that at the end a supremely fine tuned athlete would emerge. Very similar to some Eastern Bloc regimes just without the steroids. Many of these selected athletes were not to perform with the clubs from which they had been plucked, as the fear was if they played amongst lesser talented individuals their standard would drop back to theirs.

The major downside of these controlled environments, apart from some young players getting ahead of themselves, is that you are unable to gauge how the finely tuned athlete will perform when the chips are down, or in a an overly physical environment. Do they have the inner strength the physical toughness, not just the muscle, to get the team across the line.

It was baseball coach Yogi Berra who coined the phrase ‘Baseball is 90% mental the other half is physical.’ With time the word ‘baseball’ was replaced by the word ‘sport.’ The funny thing is that 90% of coaches along with their athletes spend 100 percent of their time working on the physical and tactical sides  of their sport. The reason being that mental edge cannot be taught. Some people have it, some people don’t and it has nothing to do with lifestyles.

In the era mentioned, when Australia was at the top in rugby union and cricket, players played for their clubs, if they were lucky they were picked for their state side. They were not guaranteed a long term place in the side, they had to perform on a regular basis in order to earn that right. If they couldn’t cut it they were back playing with their clubs. What is more important in both of these sports when there were no test matches international players would be playing at their clubs, that in turn helped aspiring players learn what was required to make it to the next level. Nowadays in cricket they hardly ever play for their states teams let alone their clubs. 

The problem with the academy system is you have as a club committed to a player, you may be able to create this magnificent specimen of an athlete, -as this is how all sports people are classed now – but how do you know that athlete can perform? The only way is to throw them in the mix, but then many coaches are loathe to do that at the highest level because their job could be on the line if the athlete fails and the team loses.

Australian rugby has realised this predicament, and that is why they have created the National Rugby Championship. This will give those fringe players, as well as the academy players a chance to show what they can do in a real game situation, without harming the integrity of the Super 15 sides.

Australia were superb in this Summer’s Ashes but that victory covered over a great number of cracks in the game and the talent pool. One of the things that the rest of the world admired about Australian cricket of yesteryear was how they seemed able to pluck players at random from the Sheffield Shield competition and these players were able to perform at Test level. That is no longer the case.

Football has to accept that with the dawn of the professional era in Australia, the gulf between the A-League and the new NPL players is widening. It is already bigger than it has ever been. Ex Socceroo and A-League coach John Kosmina spoke out about this in 2011, and stated that the FFA needed to invest money at this level. The NPL will see negligible investment from the FFA. The points system is also going to be detrimental to the development of quality players capable of making that step up to the next level; the players points system penalises players as they get older, as they are worth more points and teams can only field a side with a set number of points.

The points system is a protectionist move to ensure that the young players who they have had in their development programs – and in some cases whose parents have spent thousands of dollars in the hope that their son will make it to the big time – get to play senior football. The State League competition, or NPL as it is now, is not and never should be a development league! If you turn this competition into a development league you will end up starving the A-League of genuine talent. That is unless you want the A-League to be a development league for overseas clubs?

As rugby has realised the second tier needs to be highly competitive and in that environment the cream will rise to the surface. One problem Football faces, being governed by FIFA rules, is getting around how fringe A-League players on full professional contracts can compete in a separate competition, run by a different body without terminating those contracts. FIFA have advised Not The Footy Show previously that there is no such thing as dual registration, so that is not an option.

There is no doubt that Football needs an improved second tier competition and to have it linked nationally is definitely a great move, however as touched on before, geography and costs should not play such a big part in the play-off series to decide who Australia’s champions will be. By bowing to these influences you are tampering with the integrity of the competition as well as hampering the natural evolution of teams and players. Essentially by giving in to such constraints the FFA opens itself up for accusations of skewing the competition in order to get what they want out of it.

Respected Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger several years ago threw down a challenge to any coach who could identify a 13 year old and guarantee that they would play at the highest level when they reached adulthood. There are too many variables to be able to guarantee such things, yet the FFA and its development pathway seem hellbent on proving the likes of Wenger wrong.

Skill and preparation will get a player so far, as rugby has discovered. However the reality is that sport is 100% mental, a player’s thoughts influence his actions, and then those actions influence their thoughts. Ultimately it is in most cases the mental side that separates successful athletes from those who do not reach their full potential. The cold reality is unless you place an athlete in a real competitive environment you will never find out how good he is and whether he can cut the mustard.

Two sports taking very different approaches to underpinning their top competition, it will be interesting to compare rugby and football’s development over the next few years and how the Super 15 franchises and the A-League Franchises compare in terms of onfield performance and standards. As for Cricket, let us see which path they chose to go down in the future for Australia will no doubt have to re-visit the way it is doing things away from the Big Bash League.

 

January 10, 2014 at 7:57 am Leave a comment

Taking the Mickey

The news that Cricket Australia have decided to terminate coach Mickey Arthur’s contract has stunned many close to the game. It may also prove to be a grave mistake by Cricket Australia.

The word is that chief executive James Sutherland was understandably not happy with David Warner’s conduct but is also understood to be angry at the handling of the bar-room incident by team management an incident where Warner punched England’s Joe Root.

The truth is ever since Arthur made the bold move of standing down four players, including then vice-captain Shane Watson, during the Test tour of India in March for failing to complete performance feedback on time, his tenure was always going to go one of two ways. He would be supported by the powers that be, or he would be shown the door.

Maybe he was the architect of his own demise by recalling some of those players following their suspensions, but Mickey Arthur is a professional and he would no doubt have welcomed them back into the fold feeling they now knew what was expected of them, and that it was clear he was the boss.

Sadly in many high profile sports these days the players do not have the same maturity in such situations.

If Cricket Australia were unhappy with the team management’s handling of the Warner incident what was stopping them stepping in and meting out disciplinary action of their own?

Instead James Sutherland has backed his ‘commodities,’ the players ahead of his coaching staff, which is an incredibly dangerous path to tread. Ask anyone close to the game and they will tell you there are problems at the top. Many ego-related, money-related and expectation-related.

Despite what many will have you believe Cricket is the true national sport in Australia.  Sadly some of those honoured with representing Australia have forgotten the traditions, expectations in behaviour, and conduct required when donning the baggy green cap. Arthur with Captain Michael Clarke were working hard on those very issues with a very divisive group. They needed the support from the top. It now appears that it was not there.

One of the key aspects to MIckey Arthur’s success as a coach has always been the relationship he has had with his captains, and it appeared that both he and Clarke were reading from the same page. That trust and bond has been destroyed in one fell swoop.

With the Australian team about to meet up for the first time as a squad in Taunton in England to prepare for their first pre-Ashes tour match, against Somerset beginning on Wednesday it will be in an interesting get-together.

Darren Lehmann who has proved himself an astute coach in his time guiding the Queensland Bulls to the Sheffield Shield and one-day titles as well as the  Brisbane Heat to the Big Bash League title, is tipped to take over. He will no doubt relish the challenge.

However Lehmann will be no push over, and expect a few possible thunderstorms before the sun comes out and the Australian team can take to the field as one cohesive unit to try and beat England and win the Ashes back. James Sutherland will no doubt be hoping this all happens behind closed doors, or he may just find the pressure mounting on him in his role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

Big Bash Lunacy

Congratulations to The Perth Scorchers on a phenomenal win to make it to the final of the Big Bash League T20 Cricket competition. The way in which they came back after rain delays and having to beat the good old Duckworth-Lewis system was incredible. It now means Western Australia has both the male and female teams in T20 Finals with the Western Fury taking on the NSW breakers prior to the men’s finals.

Sadly though, many of those fans who attended the semi-final on wednesday night are faced with a huge dilemma. The start of the men’s final is 5pm, and if any of those fans play in local competitions they will still be at their games, unless they have managed to record an outright victory.

No doubt the game will still be a sell-out and Cricket Australia and the bean counters will be patting each other on the back and telling each other what a success the competition has been, but they are forgetting one key element, you should never alienate your key supporters.

Those who play cricket in WA would make up a large percentage of those wanting to attend the final, a fair proportion would be WACA members, and now with the timing of the final they will be forced to decide whether to let their club side down and attend or simply take it on the chin that they are not going to be able to attend.

It is accepted in sport today that the players receive the big dollars due to television money, but does that mean the sports administrators should sell their soul for that money?

Not The Footy Show does not know if the WACA argued long and hard on behalf of its fans to have a later start, but shouldn’t the organisation that has won the right to host the final, a final from which they hope to maximise incoming revenue, not have a say in when the game is played? Is that not their right?

It would appear that Cricket Australia, has kow-towed to the television company broadcasting the final, who want to air it on the East Coast at a reasonable hour, thereby attracting top dollar from advertisers to this their key market. The fact that in Summer Western Australia falls to three hours behind the two key cities of Sydney and Melbourne has meant that the game must start at 5pm so that it can be aired at 8pm on the East Coast and should be finished by just after 11pm.

Some will say who cares, in fact when the game is sold out the WACA administrators may well not give the matter another thought. However sport is supposed to be for the fans, and if success sees your core fans alienated because someone has chosen to sell control to a third party  that is extremely foolish. On a day that Western Australia should be celebrating many are accepting that it is indeed a very sad day for Cricket as this decision shows who truly controls the game, and it is not Cricket’s administration.

January 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm 2 comments

Big Bash Equals Big Risk

Back in January we sounded alarm bells on this site when we penned “Will Big Bash Save Australian Cricket?”

In that article we stated how Cricket Australia believed that the Big Bash League would generate $300million.  CEO Cameron Sutherland believing that the BIG Bash League will be bigger than Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket back in the 1970’s.

Cricket Australia have ploughed ahead with this money making scheme at a time when the IPL is losing some of its lustre and some would say floundering if it wasn’t for the television deal that was signed originally.

The Players representative body aired their concerns that too much Twenty20 would “kill the Golden Goose.” It certainly will not help the test players, and that is the most important side of the game.

What is a concern is that Cricket Australia who have put so much into the Big Bash League being a success have allowed other fixturing to go head to head with their new tournament.

A trial game has been arranged leading up to the start of the Test Match series against India for December 18, the same day that Melbourne Renegades open their campaign against Adelaide Strikers and Perth Scorchers host the Hobart Hurricanes. This trial game could well see some franchises weakened in their opening games.

To compound this, the Big Bash League’s Final is currently scheduled to be played on the last day of the fourth test in Adelaide.

If Cricket Australia see this as the Cash Cow that keeps them afloat at a time when participation numbers are down and viewing figures on television are at an all time low, surely you would ensure that you do not have games clashing so that you can maximize the exposure of both formats of the game.

There are many attached to the game who are very concerned that so much money is being invested into the Big Bash League, and the fixture clashes have made them extremely uneasy, that this could be a gamble which will not give the game the return that it is projecting.

Time will tell.

August 8, 2011 at 11:54 am Leave a comment

Will Big Bash Save Australian Cricket?

At the start of this Australian Summer Cricket Australia admitted that the television ratings had fallen by approximately a quarter over the past decade, and that television audiences for the one day game were at an all time low.

They admitted that the national game was under pressure from Australian Rules, NRL and other codes and that they were struggling to retain players once they hit their teenage years, as well as struggling to attract females to the game.

Chief Executive Officer Cameron Sutherland conceded that cricket is regarded as “time consuming and burdensome by parents.” He also admitted that the game is struggling to attract new immigrants to Australia and remains very much part of the countries Anglo Saxon heritage; although other immigrants from commonwealth countries too are still drawn to the game.

He stated that ‘the sport’s own complacency is partly to blame for some of its problems.’

This summer’s test match series confirmed that complacency as the Australian team where beaten fairly and squarely by a better team. What is worrying is the fact that too many people are ignoring the fact that England in this instant prepared properly for the series and were more professional than their Australian counterparts, and it has been a long time since you have been able to say that when talking about cricket.

Sport is cyclical of that there is no doubt, and when teams are winning no one wants to make changes for fear that the winning may stop. We have witnessed Australian cricketers dictating when they retire which is fine if they want to go out at the top, but otherwise you must always face the fact that you will be dropped and every test match could be your last. If Michael Clarke had not been earmarked as the next captain would he have survived this summer?

England’s rugby team when they won the World Cup was not slowly dismantled as it needed to be and it has taken almost eight years for them to get back to close to that level. That is what makes Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson a great manager, many thought he was mad to get rid of the likes of Beckham, and Van Nistleroy, but he finds replacements without destroying the team, because he rightly believes no one is bigger than the team, or the club.

That is sadly a lesson that Australian cricket needs to learn very quickly, now that the golden era has come to a grinding halt it has highlighted that you cannot allow players to become bigger than the game itself, as tempting as it may be as the turnstiles click, they will only keep clicking for so long.
The other sad fact is the dominance of Australian cricket was so strong that it failed to be a spectacle and that too had a damaging effect on the game as a whole. That however is not the fault of the players; you can never blame a player for being so superior to his opponent.

Next summer the Board of Cricket Australia will launch the Big Bash League which they believe will generate $300million. This is in spite of the player’s representative body warning that too much Twenty20 will “kill the golden goose.”

Sutherland believes that the Big Bash League will be bigger than Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, which seems hard to believe, as World Series Cricket attracted the majority of the best players in the world and was not simply a slog-fest.

No wonder this summer with the exception of Michael Hussey we witnessed flawed techniques, Australian state cricket is now too focussed on the shorter forms of the game.

Twenty20 should always be a bit of fun played in a carnival atmosphere and that is it. International one day cricket was killed in this country with too many games in the triangular series as each year they tried to milk the punters in each state. The game has evolved and the statistics on how many times the team that bats first wins now makes it in the main, a non-event. The rules of the game have failed to evolve, to keep the paying public interested.

As for attracting people to the game at grass roots level, it is a concern. Sheffield shield cricket used to be the highest level of domestic cricket in the World and the various state competitions were revered worldwide. But times change and we live in a different world to the one we did fifteen years ago and maybe the structure of these competitions needs to be revised to attract more people to the game.

Cricket is a wonderful game, of that there can be no doubt, but one thing hard to understand when moving to Australia was that batsmen were being paid per run that they made. Frequently we would witness a dull selfish meandering innings that put the team under pressure, as one of the top order accumulated dollars for his bank balance. That cannot be good for anyone, as stated before no one should be bigger than the team. You win as a team and you lose as a team, and the rewards should be based on the success you have as a group not on how each individual does.

Yes Australian cricket has been complacent, but is the Big Bash League the answer? Cameron Sutherland will ultimately be judged on where Australian Cricket is when he steps down in 2015, and he believes he is right, time will tell.

January 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm 3 comments


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