The Big Bash has proved itself as the 2015 premier Australian summer sporting competition of 2015/16.
With a record crowd of 80,883 this season, almost 30,000 more than the previous record and the TV ratings to back it up, the A-League will have to settle as bridesmaids with the NBL far behind.
So what is the winning formula concocted by the Big Bash that has fans flocking to cricket grounds around Australia?
The bulk of the Big Bash competition coincides with school holidays and parents don’t have to worry about their youngsters getting bored watching seagulls for six hours at a test match. The Big Bash is three hours jam packed with excitement. If the spearing yorkers and big sixes aren’t enough to keep the kids entertained, then the fireworks display certainly will. Organisers have recognised this demand and set kids’ tickets at $5 and family tickets (two adults and two kids) at $42, so it won’t cost an arm and a leg to bring the whole family. The test series between the West Indies and to a lesser extent the Kiwis have been let’s say ‘boring’ so Aussie fans have turned to the Big Bash which has more than compensated for the lacklustre cricket at international level.
One big area of success for the competition this season has been the recruitment of international superstars. The Melbourne Stars have welcomed back English big hitters Kevin Pietersen and Luke Wright while their English counterparts David Willey and Michael Carberry have been handy inclusions to the Perth Scorches line-up. The players from the Caribbean haven’t had too much success in Australia when it comes to test matches of late but they sure know how to light up the T20 circuit. Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy have all been fan favourites for their flare on the field. The Sri Lankan imports of recently retired Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene have had average form in the Big Bash but their names alone draw many fans to grounds. South Africans Jacques Kallis and Johan Botha add some class and experience to their sides. These legends of the games mixed in with home grown talents like Chris Lynn, Travis Head, Glen Maxwell and James Faulkner is a great sight to see.
Fans are embracing T20
Traditional cricket fans look away now.
Not only has the Big Bash surpassed other sports numbers but the ‘monster truck’ version of the game has out done its test cricket counterpart. The Perth Scorchers have enjoyed regularly selling out the 20,000 capacity WACA, whereas the test match between the Aussies and Kiwis only averaged some 8000 fans a day at the same stadium. The sacred Boxing Day test drew in around 53,000 fans which was well and truly surpassed by the upwards of 80,000 that came out to see the Melbourne derby. While test cricket can be exciting at times, fans are enjoying the non-stop excitement of the shorter form of the game. Broadcasters Channel 10 add a feel-good vibe to matches which are on most week nights, allowing fans to watch without any competition from other Aussie sports.
Room for growth?
With such explosive growth in the tournament this year it is anyone’s guess as to where it will be next year. One thing we do know is that if Indian players were allowed to play Big Bash they would draw huge crowds. The Indian cricket boards are very protective of their players in overseas tournaments which has meant a lack of such players in Australian and other overseas competitions. With around 300,000 Australians having Indian heritage – with a good portion being cricket mad – seeing the likes of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni would be sure to give the numbers another welcome boost.
This year’s Big Bash tournament has not only shown that T20 cricket is here to stay, but it’s taking over.
Big hitter Chris Lynn hits five sixers in a row.