Messy cricket schedule is a donkey’s breakfast
Two bizarre things happened in sport this week. First Novak Djokovic bought the entire Serbian supply of donkey cheese. Then if that wasn’t weird enough, a Twenty20 cricket tournament broke out in the middle of the Test cricket season.
The Big Bash League started on the weekend, with Shane Warne’s form and crowds both way below expectations. Warney probably flopped because it’s a little late in his career, but the crowds failed because the tournament is much too early.
The cricket calendar is upside down this summer, due mainly to South Africa’s desire to play at home on Boxing Day. So what happened was, we hosted them early, then found ourselves with a two week gap between the third Test in Perth and the start of the Sri Lanka series.
How to fill that gap?
In the old days, when ambush marketing was a phrase which hadn’t been invented, you’d have two rounds of Sheffield Shield cricket and not give a stuff about the AFL draft or whatever other non-events the football codes tried to squeeze in as an excuse for news.
Shock horror, that might’ve even enabled some of our Test stars to find a bit of form. Alien concept that in 2012.
But no, that would’ve all made too much sense. Instead, we had the annual domestic T20 tourney kick off early without its overseas stars. We also, just quietly, had Cricket Australia promote the heck out of the tourney while the South Africa Test series was still in progress.
So here’s the state of the cricket nation. We have Test stars who are undercooked for a series against a decent opponent in Sri Lanka, and a T20 tournament which is heavily promoted but underwatched even as CA throws all its marketing clout in that direction.
Everything about the summer schedule is a festering pile of donkey cheese so rank not even Novak Djokovic would buy it and onsell it as a delicacy.
Luckily, this is all easy to fix. Have the Tests between November and early January. Then devote the second half of summer to the shorter versions of the game. There. That’s it. It’s so simple, even someone with a marketing degree could understand it.
That way, we preserve the beautiful sweaty chess that is Test cricket, and we can fully devote our mindless attention to the excellent Arnie movie that is swatball.
There are still issues behind these issues which need resolving over time. With a decline in junior cricket participation and a shift at that level to shorter games, it remains uncertain where the Test stars of the future will be nurtured.
It is also spectacularly unclear what to do with talented cricketers like Shane Watson and even Dave Warner, whose body and/or stress levels cannot handle the demands of all three types of cricket on a year round basis. And we haven’t even mentioned the bowlers.
As mentioned, these issues will play out over time. But first things first. Let’s make the first half of the summer about long cricket, the second half about short cricket.
Fans will then know what’s what and when, and so will players.
That’ll help players’ form and fitness, and will also transform Cricket Australia’s cheesy Big Bash from an ass of a thing into the cash cow it deserves to be.
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