With most of the Aussie stars away on international duty in the summer, each line-up featuring only two overseas marquee players and that coinciding with an extended season finishing only in February, the quality of play in the Big Bash League (BBL) has taken a major beating, reiterated former Australia and Sydney Thunders batsman, Shane Watson.
Watson did a comparative study of BBL with the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL), where he plays for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Quetta Gladiators, respectively, and urged authorities to take a look at how far behind the tournament down under stands now.
"For me the writing was on the wall as soon as the new media rights deal was done and the tournament got extended out to 7 home and away games with the finals on top," Watson wrote in his blog 'T20 Stars', bringing under scanner the new broadcasting deal Cricket Australia (CA) signed with Fox Sports that led to a prolonged BBL season, well beyond the Christmas-New Year's holiday window.
"I know all too well that the quality of the cricket that is being played in the BBL is now behind some of the tournaments around the world. The Indian Premier League is the ultimate as it has all of India's best players playing throughout the whole tournament as well as each team having 4 of the best players in the world complementing the local talent."
"The Pakistan Super League is another tournament where the quality of the cricket that is played is seriously good. Each team has two fast bowlers of the class of Haris Rauf, each team has a quality spinner and a number of world-class batsmen to round out the team."
Because the quality of play is the No.1 priority in IPL and PSL, Watson reckons, those leagues will always have an upper hand above BBL in terms of popularity.
"The one thing that the IPL and PSL do is make the quality of the cricket, the product, the number one priority," he wrote. "They know that if this is of the highest quality possible, then the longevity of the tournament and the commercial growth and success will look after itself."
"Don't get me wrong they have all of the bells and whistles as well, however, the glitz and glamour goes on before and after the matches but very rarely does the entertainment affect the players ability to perform at their best."
"This is where the BBL has really lost its way. The quality of the cricket has been put on the back burner in the Big Bash and the entertainment gimmicks have been brought to the forefront."
Gimmicks like micing up cricketers in between matches shall be done away with and more foreign players should be allowed in each playing XI to restore the declining quality of the BBL, believes the 38-year-old.
"One of the gimmicks that I really feel takes away from the quality of the cricket product is the mic'ing up of players - up to 2 players from each team fielding are being mic'd up with a significant amount of the captains being one of the two players," wrote Watson. "How in the world is a captain supposed to have his mind on the game when he is being interviewed regularly."
"A number of the young guys are more focused on being entertaining on the microphone instead of prioritising their mental energy."
"It is easy to spot where the biggest problem lies with the talent pool already stretched so thin, we extend our tournament by at least 4 games, we only have two overseas players allowed to play in every game and our local international stars aren't available!!!"
"This means that the quality of the cricket that is played, which is the only way that will sustain the cricket-loving public to continue to watch the games, is starting to really decline," he added.
(Inputs from India Today)