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.
celebratory antics would be perfect for ads, billboards and promotion.
But on a 22
yard strip of turf?
I think not.
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?
wouldn’t believe his eyes.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.