Posted by: nestaquin | January 25, 2011

Big Bash 2011: I’ve Seen the Future & it is Murder

It’s seldom I depart a cricket match feeling disenchanted but this evening’s Big Bash at Bellerive was an experience I’d rather not repeat.

It wasn’t because Tasmania played the poorest cricket I’ve witnessed in many a year, although I’m sure that contributed, it was the fact that the cricket was a sideshow and most of the crowd didn’t seem to mind or even notice.

They were more enthralled by the fireworks and giant Bunsen burners, the scantily clad dancers, the earbusting snippets of wallpaper music and the gaggle of sponsors’ harlots perennially circling the perimeter throwing worthless landfill to the begging patrons than the sporting contest itself.

I could explain through many a detailed anecdote the general apathy and cricketing ignorance of the vast majority in my near vicinity but one exchange I heard from a family walking through the cold concrete corridors of the Southern Stand at match’s end sums up the general attitude succinctly.

A lad, aged around 12 decorated in merchandise with hands full of sponsor’s clutter, turned to his Dad and asked, “Who won?” His Father answered, “I think it was the red team from Perth.” Mum then chimed in with, “Are you sure? Tasmania got them all out, didn’t they?” The boy then said, “Doesn’t matter, the cricket was boring anyway. Hardly anybody hit a six.”

Tonight I saw the future and let me tell you brothers and sisters, it is murder.

Note: South Australia won by 9 wickets with more than 8 overs to spare.

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  1. T20 in England was like this at about the same stage of development as T20 in Aus, but it’s calmed down and now it’s proper sport with sensational fielding, excellent running powerful and imaginative batting and, well, some bowling.

  2. The cricket wasn’t too bad. Dr. Dan Harris’ innings was a wonderful knock, Adil Rashid bowled cleverly, South Australia’s fielding was faultless but few in my section of the crowd seemed to appreciate it. They were there for the hyped event, the peripheral party and not the cricket.

    They had competitions and dancing and giveways not during the breaks between overs or innings but in the middle of overs which made it difficult to actually watch the match. The incessant music and announcements also made it impossible to have a conversation. I’m sure if you wanted to get drunk or impersonate a seagull it was a great evening’s entertainment but for those of us who wanted to enjoy the cricket it sucked.

  3. Nesta, mate you and I think very much alike.
    We’ve been headed down a very dark road with Cricket Australia’s lust for merch sales and an attempt to flashy and hip, whilst all of as as true supporters of THE GAME and what the cricket means to us get shafted.
    Never mind the merch we buy and the time and money we have invested in (most of lives) in order to get the most out of this great game.

    A new low for the Big Bash. Glad the Redbacks won of course.

    • The Redback’s look a near certainty to win this year. Dr Dan Harris is in excellent form and I’ll be following his progress closely during the rest of the Shield season. Now that he has his PhD he is concentrating solely on cricket and I reckon he is just the type of intelligent and determined player the Test team needs. He’ll need to score some big hundreds to get a look in but playing half his games in Adelaide won’t hurt.

      • Harris would be an MD rather than a PhD, wouldn’t he?

  4. I happened to catch a bit of the ABC commentary of the last ODI at the weekend. Peter Roebuck was on at the time. I’ve always found him slightly pompous and irritating, but he made an interesting point. He basically said that England are incredibly lucky that most of our players don’t play in IPL, and that as soon as they start to it’ll be the death of our team because developing young talent will be almost impossible when all they care about is becoming 1 dimensional sloggers to maximise the big bucks. Difficult to say that he’s wrong really.

    • Nah, The IPL will only ever take a handful of English players and they make more money and get more security out of Test cricket anyway.

      • Maybe, but then again maybe not. How many Aussies are there in IPL ? A lot more than there are Englishmen that’s for sure, and some of them have become millionaires before they even played a single first class match. I don’t see any obvious reason why the same couldn’t happen for our players, and if/when it does then how many young players are going to want to be the next Jonathan Trott and how many the next David Warner ?

        I worry that this is the future. I used to think that if all else failed there would always be England and Australia who care about Test cricket, but I’m not so sure now. India still cares but how long will they care for when all their best players become 20/20 specialists and their Test team inevitably declines as a result ?

        • I just don’t see it happening Sassenach – it would be more visible now. British sports people have never gone abroad in great numbers no matter what sport. Lots of reasons for that.

          • is it the dodgy prawns? ;)

  5. Leonard Cohen!!!!

    I always listen to that song when I’m in an apocalyptic mood.

    And after reading that article, I’m definitely in an apocalyptic mood. :(

    • I’m pleased someone appreciated the sentiment expressed in the song, Meiko!

  6. Back when I used to go to Shield matches, I used to be amazed at the inane conversations by people around me. Hardly anyone used to show up, and many of those who did weren’t even knowledgeable cricket fans!

    Now I’m sure there are people like that at the T20’s as well, but overall I think the crowds know what they’re watching. The first time Hauritz bowled against Qld in a T20, he got roundly booed by 27000 people – that wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t know who Hauritz was (and at that time he’d only played a few ODI’s 4 years earlier and one Test in India) and which state he’d grown up in.

    Having said that, I’m sure it’s worse on the lower seats where the police eject drunken yobbos….

  7. This is what happens when children are raised on T20 instead of Tests or even ODIs. No patience left. Makes me feel like punching someone.

  8. I was raised on one-day cricket though; it wasn’t until Australia Day 1993 that I became enamored of the test match format. I’m sure others are similar.

    I’ve raised many of my likes and dislikes of the format before but I disagree with nesta here that things are bad.

    It is good for the game that fans with little to no knowledge attend the game. Different people will take different things out of attending: my first few live ODIs were fun for the crowd antics, not the games which I barely remember. The real question are the ones not asked: did they enjoy it, and will they come back?

    There is nothing inherently wrong with music, fireworks and cheerleaders. But if we are to import things from American sports, we ought to import them properly. The whole point of them is to rev the crowd up into supporting their team, and to aid their understanding of the state of play, whereas the music (at the MCG anyway) does precisely the opposite. They play up every wicket and boundary, instead of OUR wickets and boundaries, they play random songs instead of music to set the mood. They dance for the cameras, they distract from the events on the field.

    It is pretty easily fixed though, set forth different instructions for those in charge of entertainment, tell them to get a bit more creative, and if that fails, sack them and find someone who can do the job.

    I had a slightly different experience last Saturday, disappointing crowd aside, the game was fairly good. My friend brought a Hungarian acquaintance along, completely new to cricket. We spent perhaps half the game explaining various parts of the sport, but while he remained vague on the terminology, by the end he identified that the clusters of wickets cost Victoria the game, and seemed to enjoy it. T20’s quirks continue to make things unnecessarily complex though: free hits, changes in the fielding restrictions, and the bowling restrictions are all very hard to explain. Cricket is a simple sport really, bat, ball, hit, run; it doesn’t pay to complicate it further.

  9. In the previous match against Victoria the administrators had the balance about right but last night the promoters lost all perspective.

    In the middle of every second over there were distractions. For example, a bubbly blonde girl appears on the big screen and announces that if you see your face on the screen in the next 30 seconds you’ll win $200! This caused the majority to stop watching the match and start jumping around waving their hands in the air while watching the big telly on the hill.

    That’s one example of the promotions last night and I don’t have a problem with the sponsors getting maximum value. What bugged me was that they were doing these promotions while the action was taking place on the pitch.

  10. i have to admit…none of this tomfoolery happened at the Adelaide oval where i attended the games vs nsw and victoria. so may be cricket tasmania have something to answer for.

  11. It’s great to see NSW’s resources stretched so much that hey picked a 17 year old 145 kph speedster.

    • There’s more than one Pete! However, it will be interesting to see if they can bowl that quick for more than 4 overs if they ever get the opportunity.

  12. In part this is sad, but part of it makes me a little bit happy.

    I taught in South Auckland for a few years, a region that cricket is the third most popular summer sport, behind Softball and Kilikiti (Samoan cricket). One thing that amazed me was the way that boys in my class started talking about cricket during the Twenty Twenty world cup. It helped that the games were on before school, and often finished early enough for the students to watch the end before leaving in the morning. It also helped that Ross Taylor (who is Samoan) did well. (It’s always easier to be a fan of someone who looks like you).

    I noticed that twenty twenty is cricket with training wheels. It got some of the students into cricket, a game that they’d previously not shown much interest in. One of those boys has gone on to make the Auckland Polynesian schoolboys team as a fast bowler.

    If t20 can attract people that are not into cricket, and get them to pay money to come and watch a game that they were not otherwise interested in then it’s doing its job. Even better if the start to care about the game, and take it up.

    • mykuhl – Great story and that is one of the hopes for T20. Got to keep the prices down and make the cricket the focus if that’s to work.

  13. They did it again today. During play, women were walking around the boundary chucking things to the crowds. One girl got belted on the ankle by one of the rare fours that the Warriors hit.

    I thought I was past caring about the indignity of t20, but not even expecting the crowd to bother with the play? Where will it all end?

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