T20 fever and the Big Bash
The first time that T20 cricket burst onto the scene was in 2003 in England, and some eight years down the line there is no arguing that it is the most popular form of cricket. Millions of dollars have been put into competitions like the IPL and Stanford 20/20 tournament which have enjoyed enormous success. A testament of its wide appeal is the number of World T20s already held.
In Australia, the format was launched in 2005 and an excited crowd attended the domestic fixture at the WACA, which had seen poor attendance for Australia-Pakistan Test match some time earlier. This made it clear that this is the format the public wanted to go ahead with.
The Australians have given the masses what they want, and the Australian Big Bash League has been launched. The timing is a little controversial, as it coincides with the traditional Australian summer season. It is, thus, going to disrupt the preparations for the Boxing Day Test match against India as majority of their international players will be participating in this. Also, the final is scheduled for a day which clashes with the fifth day of the last test match between Australia and India.
Micheal Hussey put it like this: “With the amount of injuries that have been around the team in the last few months it does make you a little bit nervous that if you do have injuries to the Australian Test team, that we might be picking players that have only been playing Twenty20 cricket.”
But the economic consideration dictates that the tournament be held at this juncture, as it is time for school holidays and Cricket Australia wants to engage and attract as many new children to the game as it can.
Built on the IPL model, the Big Bash League is a franchise-based league and has attracted stars from all over the world. Big names of the T20 world like Chris Gayle, Herschelle Gibbs, Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi, to name a few, will be participating in this tournament.
Keiron Pollard was set to participate too, but a hamstring injury will see his sit-out. The tournament will also see old pros like Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne and Stuart Macgill, who have retired from cricket, back in action.
For Warne's fans, this will be a chance to see him back in action as he represents the Melbourne Stars. Everyone thought that cricket had lost one of its greatest performers as Shane Warne, the legendary leg spin bowler, bowed out after the IPL in May. At 42, he has decided to have a final basking in the sun though.
Pakistan’s representation in the tournament comprises of Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, and Rana Naveed ul Hassan. All big names in their own right and this should sell the tournament to the Pakistani public too. Afridi and Rana have already played in the Australian T20 tournaments before enjoying a fair deal of success. For Razzaq this will be his first stint and we can just hope that all three Pakistanis set the grounds alight with fireworks with both bat and ball!