It may not have the tradition and history of test match cricket, the game may not necessarily be a battle between bat and ball and it may not have all of the International stars readily available, but the Big Bash League has been a major smash hit after returning free-to-air television ratings comparable to that of test matches…
It seems as though, after the completion of the first round that the BBL is well on the way to achieving these aims as the opening match drew an audience of 1.16 million viewers whilst the second match drew an impressive 1.13 million on capital city and regional area averages. According to the Herald Sun, this audience was “up 420 percent on the 2012-13 capital-city season average” indicating that the transition to the bigger market of free-to-air television coverage is just what the competition needed to gain more exposure within Australia.
However, it must be remembered that the competition is still in the “honeymoon” period of the first round and long term figures are yet to be seen. But as Andrew Wu reported for the Age, “the public may not have exactly voted with their feet but did so with their remote controls” as he referred to the 25,000 and 18,000 crowds which marginally fell short of Cricket Australia’s expectations, highlighting that the league still needs to work on getting international players available to play in matches as a way to draw crowds to games.
Leaving all of the competition’s management behind and the Big Bash started with a bang as English all-rounder Luke Wright teed off for the Melbourne Stars from ball one. Wright hit five 6’s, mostly through the mid-wicket area as he raced to 70 off just 32 balls, however only a brilliant and economic spell of bowling from Muttiah Muralidaran (comically nicknamed by Peter Nevill as ‘Muz’) could stop the Englishman, drawing him into a lofted shot where he was caught at long-on. A half-century from Captain Cameron White and a handy 30 from seasoned veteran Brad Hodge saw the Stars post a BBL record 7/208 off their 20 overs setting a tough target for the Renegades. This proved the case for Aaron Finch’s team as he could only manage 32 and import Jos Buttler added 49 as the Renegades were bowled out for 132 as they succumbed to the brilliant spell of line and length from Jackson Bird who took 4/31 in his return to domestic cricket.
Melbourne Stars 7/208 def Melbourne Renegades 10/132 by 76 runs.
The Big Bash rolled into the SCG for the second game as David Warner (50) and Usman Khawaja (66) got the Sydney Thunder off to a brilliant start as they both added half centuries, however tight bowling from Steve O’Keefe (0/20) and Moises Henriques (2/24) slowed the Thunder to a modest total of 6/166. In reply the Sydney Sixers flew out of the blocks as Nic Maddinson smashed a 6 into a corporate box on his way to 61 from 40. 2012/13 Steve Waugh Medallist Gurindher Sandhu was the pick of the bowlers for the Thunder with 1/25 however solid contributions from Steve Smith, Ravi Bopara and Moises Henriques saw the Sixers chase down the total with 10 balls remaining (4/167).
Sydney Thunder 6/166 def by Sydney Sixers 4/167 by 6 wickets.
Unfortunately the afternoon game between the Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers was delayed by two hours but when it did get underway, the 8 over a side match was rocked by English T20 specialist Alex Hales who belted 49 off just 19 balls. Doug Bollinger was the pick of the bowlers for the Hurricanes however after just 6 overs the rain came back and the match had to be abandoned with both teams splitting the points.
Adelaide Strikers 1/87 off 6 overs. No Result.
The final match of the round featured the two finalists of the 2012/13 edition of the competition as the Perth Scorchers batted first and were in trouble early as Shaun Marsh fell for 37 off 30, followed by Voges who scored 19 off 17 leaving the Scorchers at 6/94. However a quick-fire 57 off 35 balls from Mitchell Marsh saw Perth reach a defendable total of 151. Alastair McDermott (3/38) and Ben Cutting (3/31) were the pick of the bowlers for Brisbane as the pitch offered incentive for good line and length from the faster bowlers. This was proven true as Jason Behrendorff bowled tight early and dismissed English import Craig Kieswetter for just 4. Nathan Coulter-Nile went onto impress as he bowled a maiden over to Daniel Christian and later took 3/37 off his 4 overs. However a defiant knock of 81 from Chris Lynn put the Brisbane Heat in the dominant position as only an incredible catch from 42 year old Brad Hogg could end his brilliant knock. Hogg added 3/21 in arguably the best bowling spell of the competition so far but it proved that 151 was too small a target as Ben Cutting slashed a boundary with 2 balls remaining to get the win for the defending champions.
Perth Scorchers 7/151 def by Brisbane Heat 7/152 by 3 wickets.
By Tim Wray ( @wray24 )
[ Published with permissions from http://themaidenover.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/big-bash-smash-hit-big-bash-league.html ]