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.

Missed… the batsman and keeper follow the lead of the people who programmed the schedule this summer. Pic: Getty Images

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.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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    • Tubesteak says:

      07:06am | 12/12/12

      Was T20 even broadcast on FTA? I’m not paying for Foxtel and wouldn’t get the sports package if I did because ch9 already has the best cricket coverage. But I didn’t know this game was on and wouldn’t have been able to see it

      The IPL has really put the cat among the pigeons. It has turned the normal schedule upside down. We used to have tests then ODIs started at the tail end of the test season. Administrators don’t know what to do anymore and really need to get their acts together and figure it out. I can’t settle in for a long summer of cricket watching if I don’t know when or what. FML

    • Gregg says:

      07:40am | 12/12/12

      I’ve not seen any on FTA but some coverage on Aunty radio I’ve happened across on odd times whilst driving.

    • Michael S says:

      07:17am | 12/12/12

      It was similar last year with the BBL - the crowds weren’t great to start with but picked up after Christmas and into January.

      Three forms of cricket probably aren’t sustainable. Test cricket is the traditional game, and the one the players most look up to - so it should survive.
      T20 packs in the crowds; and has breathed life back into domestic cricket. Increasingly, the 50-over form looks like it’s the one that’s going to miss out; and ODIs that drew 80,000 a decade ago are now out-drawn by BBL games.
      That was particularly noticable last season, when India didn’t start their 4-Test series until Boxing Day; and then there was a tri-series ODI tournament that went on into March - and by then it was up against the NRL, and the public had switched off.

      I think Anthony’s got the schedule right. Play the Tests in a block from November through to early January.
      Then play 3 ODIs over the next week. At the same time, possibly play the Sheffield Shield final and finish up the first-class season.
      And then the BBL takes over from mid-January and goes through February.

    • emel says:

      07:20am | 12/12/12

      A sound idea Anthony except you are forgetting one thing - the weather.
      Test cricket is battling enough adversaries without having to constantly battle with the unpredictable and always windy Spring weather.
      How about dropping the short game altogether instead steering the insatiable appetite of the undiscerning towards baseball.

    • Mikeymike says:

      02:50pm | 12/12/12

      You make it sound as if baseball is an alternative to cricket!

      If you’re trolling, well played sir. 

      If you’re serious… Gah!  Heretic!  Kill it with fire!

    • Nathan says:

      07:27am | 12/12/12

      “The cricket calendar is upside down this summer, due mainly to South Africa’s desire to play at home on Boxing Day.”
      I did want to point out Australia always gets the boxing day test and will never give it up. Cricket Australia actually pays SA cricket to ensure we keep the boxing day test. Not key to your article but i thought worth mentioning

    • K says:

      07:38am | 12/12/12

      School holidays doesn’t start until the 21st in vic, so why would you start the BBL two weeks before this? The big push is to get the kids to the game.

      Slow clap CA

    • Nigel says:

      07:59am | 12/12/12

      Money makes the world go around, the world go around. Haven’t you heard the song? Lisa Minnellie a few years ago now.
      the planning of viewable events has nothing to do with sense (or Cents) just the dollars. If we used common or as it is today uncommon sense to organise and plan things where would the advertising agencies be? Less of them and more decent events on nights not in the middle of the week.

    • Jars says:

      08:29am | 12/12/12

      Like Tubesteak I don’t have Foxtel so T20 big bash is an irrelevant format to me.  It’s a bit hard to get excited about it or a team when you can’t even follow the competition on tele.

      I agree with your premise though Anthony - perhaps move the tests back until mid Jan & then the shorter formats.

    • Bear says:

      08:59am | 12/12/12

      And when they’re made up teams with brand names that are meaningless and seem more ‘franchise’ than team. Its good for domestic players to have a platform but otherwise its poo.

    • Brute Man says:

      08:45am | 12/12/12

      The reason that the T20 Big Bash isn’t on FTA TV, is due to it being a pretty new concept as far as Australian cricket is concerned. When the TV rights go up for negotiation in 2013, expect the rights for the BBL to go to a FTA network.

      The adoption of an IPL-style model has done wonders for domestic cricket. The attendances and the TV ratings on Foxtel are proof of this. Crowds at domestic cricket have gone up as a result, and that’s a good thing.

      T20 cricket has it’s place. If it can provide entertainment, bring in the big crowds and the money to CA, this money should be used to make sure Test Cricket is left unchanged. As for the scheduling conflict, it doesn’t really bother me. It’s possible for both to be ran at the same time. There are those who don’t see the appeal of one format or the other, but for cricket tragics such as myself, I’m looking forward to being able to watch a day of a Test, then switch over to the BBL in the evening.

      The BBL will become quite a huge event in the Australian sporting calendar once the TV rights are picked up by a free-to-air network next year. I’ve been to several games and watched it on Foxtel and it’s an excellent competition.

    • Chris says:

      08:53am | 12/12/12

      Bloody Hell! I love cricket and I can’t work what the hell’s going on! When to watch, where to listen? What’s the point, if you can’t see or hear it and it’s not marketed clearly - I even googled it and various different messy sites came up - very unclear. ....... it’s a Dog’s Breakfast!

    • Colin says:

      09:20am | 12/12/12

      All I care is that the bloody cricket TV broadcasts don’t interfere with the playing of Star Trek Voyager episodes.

      That is all.

    • Chris says:

      09:59am | 12/12/12

      You’re a Funny Cling-On!

    • Colin says:

      10:19am | 12/12/12

      @  Chris

      “You’re a Funny Cling-On!”

      And you’re an amusing Mal(o)dorian… tongue laugh

    • Philosopher says:

      10:53am | 12/12/12

      aah, Star Trek. Great viewing pleasure for adults; followed perhaps with Astro Boy? Myself, I prefer watching House of Cards, The Bridge (Denmark) or similar. Still, to each their own.

    • Colin says:

      11:33am | 12/12/12

      @ Phil Osopher

      “aah, Star Trek. Great viewing pleasure for adults; followed perhaps with Astro Boy?”

      Gosh, Phil, you really are a paragon of intelligence, superior breeding, and worldlinessnessness, hey..? I mean to say, who would watch Star Trek other than children..?

      You do know that a) You have offended hordes of Star Trek fans with your comment and b) I am rolling around on the floor in fits of laughter about your haughtiness, don’t you..?

    • craig2 says:

      11:58am | 12/12/12

      Colin: hordes of Star Trek fans actually won’t care for philosophers comments as they would have no reason to comment on a cricket topic, maybe you should follow the script? Doesn’t look right if I made a cricket comment on a Star Trek topic? What do you think Colin, your post looks a little out of place now?

    • Philosopher says:

      12:08pm | 12/12/12

      I certainly hope I haven’t offended the hordes of Trekkies out there; what if a real, actual alien being comes to earth and blasts me with his ray-gun, thinking that I pose a danger to Intergalactic Justice by offending the Enterprise crew? And if the actors on the show mistakenly believe he is just part of the script? What a mess that would be!

    • Colin says:

      12:44pm | 12/12/12

      @  craig2

      “What do you think Colin, your post looks a little out of place now?”

      Not at all. Plenty of my friends who are fans of Star Trek and - as it happens - HHGTTG, are also fond of cricket (particularly Brockian Ultra Cricket). So THEY would be offended about the Star Trek jibe (though not offended about my cricket jibes; they are very understanding - though complex - group of geeks and nerds)

      @ Philosopher

      No, no, no! You’re confusing Star Trek with Galaxy Quest..! Get it right.

    • Economist says:

      01:37pm | 12/12/12

      I’m mortified and offended as a fan of Star Trek. @Craig2 the comment is not out of place. the Australian Cricket team are very much like the crew of the Enterprise, facing their foes on the universal field of hallowed cricket stadiums. So far they’ve been challenged by the irrepressible Borg, and they’re soon the face the Ferengi (Note are these comparisons racist?).

      @Philosopher, yet again another reason to put you in my bad books in the last week. It would seem your extent of sci-fi knowledge is limited to Mork and Mindy. As Colin has pointed out you don’t know your Galaxy quest, from your Star Trek/ Firefly/ Doctor Who, but I suppose some kudos goes to your knowledge of Starship troopers. But is this enough to redeem yourself?

    • Philosopher says:

      02:04pm | 12/12/12

      *sigh* you trekkies… Galaxy Quest was a satire on Star Trek nerds, hence I was extending the satire… oh forget it. *kicks a kitten*

    • Mouse says:

      02:53pm | 12/12/12

      Philosopher, for being a Star Trek ingnorant, may your cards get burnt and your bride fall down!  Oh, and for kicking that ittle kitten, I hope you get Tribbled!!  lol ;o)

    • craig2 says:

      03:07pm | 12/12/12

      You missed my point Colin, if the said trekky cricket fan is to be seen, that said fan would post on the topic of the day, I haven’t seen the hoardes come out in support of the supposed indignation because cricket is of no interest to probably…...most of them! Anyway, each to their own

    • Philosopher says:

      03:12pm | 12/12/12

      dear god, you too Mouse? OK I will watch some episodes for you smile and look, putting milk out for kitty…

    • Economist says:

      03:47pm | 12/12/12

      Good one Mouse loving your contributions today wink

    • Colin says:

      03:53pm | 12/12/12

      @ Philosopher

      See? Annoyed Star Trek fans.

      @ Craig2

      Yes, I know what you mean, Craig, but there are Star Trek fans lurking everywhere..! grin

    • Mouse says:

      04:30pm | 12/12/12

      OK my dearest Philosopher, I didn’t mean to turn it into a “Et tu Brute?” moment, so since you put milk out for the kitty, you are forgiven…  ;o)

    • bigmuzz says:

      12:03pm | 12/12/12

      As much as I try, I still can’t seem to make myself care about T20, these tournaments just seem so pointless to me. Is it wrong/weird that I will happily sit and watch 5 full days of Test cricket, yet can’t be bothered with a 3 hour T20?! Surely i’m not the only one…

    • Jasmine says:

      12:40pm | 12/12/12

      Me too, bigmuzz. There’s money in it for the players, though, if they happen to win the comp.

    • Ben C says:

      12:53pm | 12/12/12

      No, it’s not wrong, and you’re not the only one.

    • My Space says:

      01:38pm | 12/12/12

      It’s not cricket!!!

    • H B Bear says:

      02:00pm | 12/12/12

      I’d rather eat donkey cheese than watch T20 “cricket”.

      Now I can’t even do that.

    • sunny says:

      02:43pm | 12/12/12

      Word on the street is there’s a little known supplier in Bosnia Herzegovina. It’s not Serbia quality gear but almost as good, and let’s it face now the Djokovic cartel controls all the donk out of Serbia it’s never gonna be cheap again. Either that or get into the skunk cheese that’s now flooding the market - skunk’s never gonna be donk but it’ll do the job.

    • Mouse says:

      05:03pm | 12/12/12

      sunny. SKUNK???? Where in heaven’s name did you get that info?  Have you not heard about the Aardvark cheese coming out of Tanzania? Being the Connoisseur of all good cheeses that I am, I will let you in on this new industry in the Lake Manyara district. Aardvark cheese is even better, way better, than old donkey cheese! The little fellas, being day sleepers, are coaxed out of their burrows by nubile African girls with cucumbers (their favourite treat!) in the coolness of the night. They are carefully milked and sent back home with feelings of contentment. As this is a new industry, now is the time to get in and stake a claim because once the world tastes this delicate cheese there will be much, much, much money to be made!  Of course the other good thing about it will be that it will put that nasty Djokovic out of business!
      Life just keeps getting better every day!! LOL :o)

    • SLF says:

      03:23pm | 12/12/12

      Fact is T20 is a poor substitute for Test Cricket and is probably suffering at the moment because test cricket is so entertaining at present.

      Aus v SA, Ind V Eng, Ban v WI and Sri v NZ have been extremely entertaining to watch. Anyone who didn’t enjoy the excitement, drama and tension of the last day in Adelaide probably should be banned from watching all forms of the game.

      Also interesting to see the reaction in India to England beating them, the media is roundly turning on T20 and admitting that it is creating technically deficient weak players who don’t have the stomach for a fight.

      Prioritise Test Cricket and fit the hit and giggle in around it.


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