Suggestions to make BBL a better tournament – Part I
Reduce group games from current point 14 to 9–10 per season
Occasionally less is better. The audiences started to decline sharply when the BBL group games went up from 10 in 2018-19 to 14 a season. If fans are confronted with a broader range of games to choose from, they are more selective as they don’t have enough time or resources to watch every single BBL game.
Besides, this has a flow-on effect of deflating the BBL’s average attendance per game statistics. Also, when you extend the BBL to 61 games from 43 in only two years; spectator exhaustion is bound to kick in at some point.
I do accept the unfortunate fact that concerning the BBL, CA is trapped between a rock and a hard place. They got greedy, chased the dollar and signed lucrative dealings on the premise of a 61-game season with Channel 10 and Fox Sports.
But now they’re tied to a long, drawn-out process to fulfil commitments from broadcasters. This is particularly unfortunate because there is an immediate need for a reduction in the number of games at the BBL to restore spectator interest.
Enlarging the race to 10 franchises
Sounds crazy in today’s world, right? Well, not really, if you are looking carefully at my idea.
The smart way to pull that off is by extending the BBL to ten teams, but at the same time reducing total games per season. Canberra deserves a franchise of its own. At the moment they have just two teams (at least on the men’s side), which they can call their own: the Rugby Union Brumbies and the Rugby League Raiders.
So it’s a market with plenty of room for expansion, and the summer slot is entirely vacant. Healthy crowds at neutral Big Bash games and Australian men’s games at Manuka Oval prove there’s a healthy cricket appetite in the chilly capital. So to me, extending the BBL to Canberra is a no-brainer.
A combined Pacific Islands Team featuring players from Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea is another exciting expansion possibility.
Papua New Guinea has recently qualified for the T20 World Cup and has some genuine all-round players of high quality. They have the most extensive school cricket program in East Asia Pacific-the BSP School Kriket plan for 2020-which has reached an estimated 1.5 million students.
Papua New Guinea is a new market for the development of cricket in general, and the BBL in particular. They have an 8.9 million-strong population which is higher than the West Indies and New Zealand. Not only can they get interested in the BBL to do wonders for their cricket, but they will also broaden the broadcast audience of BBL.
The combination of Papua New Guinea’s talent with the very best from Vanuatu (which also features some future T20 stars) will create an exciting, solidly backed BBL franchise team and add a distinctive Pacifica flavour to the BBL.
This unified Pacific BBL team could be based in Townsville for the duration of the BBL tournament for the sake of convenience and economy, thereby preventing overseas travel.
A single 10-Team BBL round-robin league with a 5-game finals series will feature 50 games, which is still 11 games lower than the existing 61-game format. In doing so, you’d minimize the number of matches per BBL season while also extending the reach of cricket into new areas and presenting to new television markets.