Friday, August 17, 2012

Hyperbole or History?

With one shot, a violent swat over wide long on at that, David Warner completed the transformation. He had become the first successful morph from T20 specialist to fully-fledged Test cricketer after bringing up the 6th fastest Test century of all time, at the WACA against the fledgling Indians, of this year. Others have gone the other way, from being a regular International to a Twenty-20 only player. But the man dubbed “Cow -Corner Warner” had done it. But now, as the re-vamped Big Bash League enters it’s second year, and a lucrative Champions League spot up for grabs, not to mention the $5.7million champions wind-fall, a lot is at stake. But is the BBL, a chance to become the Blake Bolt League? For the sake of not just the tournament itself, but the integrity of Australian cricket- I hope not.



For sure, let Usain Bolt run, sprint drinks out as 12th man for the Melbourne Stars, in front of a packed MCG. He can use a cricket bat, or roll his arm over with the ball as much as he wants, pre-game for the crowd. But not during the 40 over real-stuff, adrenalin filled, hard hitting game and all.



Bolt’s celebratory antics would be perfect for ads, billboards and promotion.



But on a 22 yard strip of turf?



I think not.



Let Yohan Blake be the face of the Sydney Sixers. He can perform his trademark “beast” celebration for membership and host broadcaster Fox Sports and the like. But don’t let him charge in off the long run to Ricky Ponting in Hobart. Ponting has faced the likes of Ambrose, Walsh, Waqar, Vaas, Pollock, Akhtar, Anderson and Steyn. But how would he react when he saw the 2nd fastest sprinter in the world, and an Olympic Silver Medallist, run in at him?



He probably wouldn’t believe his eyes.



Believe it or not, this incident has precedent. In January 2007, NSW brought in former Rugby League superstar Andrew Johns into their Big Bash side. At this stage in the Big Bash’s life, it was an infant. It was nothing more than a crowd-pulling project, and some domestic prize money was at stake.



The outlandish experiment worked to a certain extent. The crowds came flocking in, albeit to such illustrious grounds such as the Newcastle sports complex. T20 was still very much a concept that was being grasped. It was not ‘serious’ as such yet. IPL was only an idea, and an International Twenty20 World cup hadn’t yet been held.



In one of Johns’ two games for NSW, his team needed 13 off the last over. Simon Katich, the gritty former Australian opener, and at that time, NSW captain- was at the crease too. Needless to say, NSW didn’t get over the line. Katich was hesitant to get Johns on strike, and the Blues fell short by 8 runs. In a dressing room with 10 other full-fledged professional cricketers, the novelty of Johns in the team probably wouldn’t have sat well. Team performances would’ve been compromised, and ego’s bruised or inflated. But as previously mentioned, T20 wasn’t seen a seriously as it is now, hence why Johns got the go-ahead.



These days, we have an eight-team; city based competition, rather than the State comp. The Melbourne Stars social media hubs, Twitter and Facebook pages, keep re-appearing with pictures of Bolt holding up a Stars shirt with his name and the number 1 on the back. Stars President, Eddie McGuire, one of the most influential media and well known people in the land- interviewed Bolt a few months back for his show, Eddie McGuire Tonight (EMT), and took the photo. It was surely a subtle opportunity to try and get Bolt down under this summer. Shane Warne has expressed his interest in getting the 100m World record holder down to the Stars too.



Publicly, neither the Stars nor Sixers are denying their interest in the two fastest men in the world. I feel that is just a ploy by the hierarchy to keep interest in the BBL, rather than saying, “No, Bolt and Blake are only going to be faces. There is no chance of them actually playing”, and killing interest off like the proverbial led-balloon.




If the two Jamaicans do run out for either side, would Puma, the two men’s main sponsor, be happy with Pat Cummins, Dirk Nannes or Brett Lee charging in and bowling a rock hard white ball at their head, or god forbid- their famous fast twitching fibred legs?




Even George Bailey, the Australian T20 captain came out yesterday and said, rather subtly, but enough to make his point, that he would be against Bolt and Blake playing in the BBL.




It is one thing for Bolt to knock over Chris Gayle in a charity match. It’s another to actually have the talent to play cricket professionally. The fact that not even 500 men have played Test cricket for Australia speaks volumes. Only a small minority of men and women get the chance to play cricket at the highest level.




Getting two cricket loving Jamaicans, with recognisable faces to play professionally, just because they are well known, and for novelty value- would degrade cricket in this proud country of ours.




If Cricket Australia and the Big Bash don’t want to remain with some integrity, and be nothing more than a novelty marketing ploy- they can get the two Jamaicans to strap the pads on, and put on a different pair of spikes from what they are used to. But it would be the wrong move.




To draw a parallel, we saw Michael Schumacher, at age 41, having not raced in Formula 1 since 2007, comeback to the sport, with the tag of ‘the most successful driver in history’, a record 7 World Championship in tow, and is widely regarded as the 2nd best, if not the best driver in F1 history (behind the late, great Aryton Senna).




3 years on, he still hasn’t won a race, and has only finished on the podium twice, albeit in a lesser car and team.




The point I’m trying to make here, is no matter how good something looks on paper, the dream is usually much different from the reality, and often doesn’t turn out well.




Just ask Andrew Johns.




But for Australian Cricket, I hope common sense prevails, and the two great Jamaicans are nothing more than a clever marketing ploy, and I truly hope that Australian cricket and Bolt and Blake’s reputations aren’t tarnished.




We are passed the stage of people saying, “I’d go the cricket just to see Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake” for the spectators and entertainment value. T20 by itself provides that. There is too much at stake now. We’re better than that, surely.




Leave the cricket to the pros.


  1. u guys actually dont know this... but give blake game and you see great talent trust me, not sure about bolt.;... but blake has played domestic cricket in jamaica... check him out perhaps, he plays the game, not jus love it

  2. Hard to see why ACA and Bailey oppose Bolt's move to play in the BBL, because it would actually promote cricket. Even the non-cricket fans would come, just to see Bolt and Blake.

  3. Valid point @CricketNNS, but what you pointed out was what I was trying to say. Australian cricket and the BBL, at the stage it's in, is past the novelty side of things. It's too 'serious' for lack of a better word, to drag the two B's along just to draw crowds. They've got to actually contribute to which ever team they may be picked in.