Shane Warne is critical of the BBL season's length.
Shane Warne is critical of the BBL season's length.

‘Embarrassing’ Big Bash image panned by legends

LEGENDS and players have joined the debate over the BBL's competition length  - almost two months  - with the competition suffering growing pains over the past few seasons.

Having started on December 17 with a Heat v Thunder clash, the BBL season is set to end on Saturday, February 8 at the SCG.

The regular season has 56 games in 41 days, and including finals there are 61 games in 53 days.

It's a long time, and legends and players alike are feeling the pinch.

Last year it was 59 games in 60 days, while BBL06, the last year of the eight-round season, was 35 games in 39 days.

Shane Warne couldn't help but take aim at the length of the season despite being asked about the possibility of moving the final.

After starting by discussing the need for rain, Warne lamented the lack of a reserve day. Sydney is expected to be deluged by rain.

"What I was surprised by was there was no reserve day, I was a bit surprised by that with the Big Bash," he said in Fox Sports commentary during the BBL Challenger.

"After 10 weeks, the competition - I believe is too long, it's still a couple of weeks too long - I think you could probably condense it.

"I think it's one of the premium T20 competitions. I think this and the IPL are the two best T20 competitions in the world and it's one the players all want to play in. To not have a reserve day for the final seems a little bit odd for me.

"I know international players and the Australian players, everyone has to go but if you're going to make the competition so long, how can you not find a reserve day?"

The MCG was looking pretty empty.
The MCG was looking pretty empty.

Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts admitted a reserve day would be considered as part of regular reviews, but the season length wasn't mentioned.

Warne added while he didn't want Cricket Australia to move the final to the MCG if the Stars won Thursday's qualifier, he would have liked to see it at Marvel Stadium, with its roof offering extra protection in case it rained.

Another issue with the long season is the crowds who have left the stadiums looking empty.

For The Eliminator in Hobart, just 11,031 fans attended at the 19,500 capacity stadium.

In ugly scenes at the MCG the following day, just 13,275 fans turned up on a Friday night to see first versus second on the ladder. The MCG has a capacity of 100,024.

Then, 15,995 went to see the Thunder upset the Adelaide Strikers at the 53,500 capacity Adelaide Oval.

The Challenger between the Stars and Thunder at the MCG started with a poor image.

It didn't get much better with the crowd coming in at 13,067 for The Challenger.

Former Australian quick Shaun Tait was furious about the look.

From a high in the 2016-17 season of 30,122, the crowds have dropped to an average of 18,754 in BBL09.

Former AFL player Mark Bickley hosts 5AA's Drive Show in Adelaide and argued the BBL had taken a misstep.

"It's a little bit like cooking the golden goose. They've scheduled more games in the last couple of years," he said in January.

"Think back to BBL 2, 3, 4 - you were flat out getting into the Adelaide Oval."

The BBL started with a seven-round competition before expanding to eight with a second derby match each season - a plan that stayed that way until BBL07, when it switched to eight games, before it expanded to 14 for BBL08.

Last year, Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell backed the length of the competition, at odds with Chris Lynn and Kevin Pietersen, who declared "Greed will finish the BBL".

A ball getting through the field or a much-needed nap for Maxwell – you decide.
A ball getting through the field or a much-needed nap for Maxwell – you decide.

Maxwell's tone has changed. "I think the length of the tournament when it was 10 games, I think we all really enjoyed that. I think it was the perfect amount," Maxwell told SEN's Whateley earlier this week.

"I just think 14 games is just a little bit much. It just makes for a very long tournament and probably goes for a touch too long.

"With school starting again it makes it a bit more difficult to keep the interest levels going until the end (of the season)."

Stars and Australian spinner Adam Zampa on Wednesday that it was a disappointing result.

"The length of it is quite long and it's disappointing to turn up to a semi-final and only have 13,000 people," he said.

"The length of the Big Bash isn't probably helping that, to be honest. Obviously kids are back at school and it's a school night. I think last game could be put a lot down to the heat that day. Hopefully we get a little bit more than 13,000 tomorrow night, but I just think with the length of the Big Bash people are preferring to watch it at home sometimes."

Aussie legend Matthew Hayden also said on Wednesday: "It does tend to lose a bit of interest when we come out of our Christmas slumber, to finish when a majority of people are still going to watch would be a good change," Hayden said.

It was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald in the OzTAM five metro figures that there had been significant drops in numbers with more than 10 per cent for Foxtel and more than five per cent for Seven, although number of fans who have shifted to sports streaming service Kayo Sports are unknown.



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