The Big Bash loomed large for me this week.
First I was asked to talk about the Twenty-20 phenomenon and its impact on the game with Barry Nicholls on ABC radio. I began our little chat by saying something like: “I’m a cricket traditionalist – I hated World Series Cricket back in the 1970s with its white ball and coloured clothes and all the rest. And I love the Big Bash.”
So what does a stuffy cricket person like me like about the Big Bash?
- I like the intensity of the games and how quickly things can change.
- I like the spirit of the games. They’re highly competitive without the macho bullshit.
- I like that it’s not all bash. There’s room for the subtle touch both in batting and bowling.
- I like the high standard of fielding.
- I like the good natured commentary on Channel 10. So unlike Nine.
- I like the TV package here in the west… start about 4.30pm, all over before 8pm. Time to go to bed, I mean go out.
And the effect on the game? Well who knows? It has provided more opportunities for players and has enabled older players to extend their careers. The first two Tests of the summer proved it’s buggered up techniques. The next two showed it hasn’t.
Then came something unexpected. The chance to attend my first Big Bash game – Perth Scorchers vs Adelaide Strikers at the WACA. This opportunity was not related to my ABC Radio appearance.
It was good to see a full WACA. Lots of families. All that sort of stuff. But I did notice the music and the talk pre-game was vey loud.
The Scorchers batted first and I noticed something. They play loud music at every break of play. No, not at the end of every over like an ad break on TV – they play loud music after EVERY BALL. And the ground announcer says things too. “That’s a great shot, come on…” And there’s on screen commentators too – to tell us what we’ve just seen.
I’ll change direction here and tell you about the innings. Ian Bell was dropped first ball and then batted beautifully, Mitch Marsh bashed a couple of big sixes and Ashton Turner was the pick of the batsman with some big hits, a couple of nice straight drives and some good running between the wickets. He even hit the last ball of the innings for six – that’s always nice.
Our self-catering was so good we could ignore most of the innings-break entertainment, visually anyway.
Willey got the dangerous Dunk early and the Strikers never got going. Mitch Johnson looked quick, Ashton Turner was tight as was AJ Tye. Brad Hodge got 50-odd, most of them off the edge while Kane Richardson found the middle and bashed the ball into the crowd a few times.
I’m sure all the noise is supposed to be about crowd engagement. My observation is what it tends to cut the crowd off. This shows a lack of faith in the game. The marketers in charge of the match-day “experience” either don’t like cricket much or don’t trust it.
And I’m worried about the kids. The message isn’t watch and wait and anticipate. It’s more like.
“Here’s the bowler.”
“Oh, sorry he didn’t hit a six.”
“Here’s some music, here’s a lollie.”
“It’s on again.”
“No six!! OMG. Here’s some music. Here’s a competition.”
“Go on Instagram.”
“Thank God, Here’s a six. Fire a cannon. Look at the fireworks. Dance!!!”
“Oh sorry, he missed that one. Here’s some loud music.”
“Do you need an ice cream?”
I couldn’t help but think of ADHD. Can you cause it through over-stimulation?
So my advice to the Big Bash people is to calm down. Let the game do its thing, The game is good and it’s not too long. And I also think there are a lot of people doing unnecessary things. Maybe you could save some money by employing less marketing types – whoops, sorry.
And one more thing. You’re going all out to be kid friendly, family friendly aren’t you? Well maybe you should remove Gary Glitter from the playlist… Google him.