After an intriguing Test series against South Africa and Pakistan – where Australia verged from feckin’ awful to quite decent – Australia played an unremarkable ODI series against Pakistan. Australia’s 4-1 margin wasn’t the problem (Australia beat India last summer 4-1 in an entertaining series, with both teams passing 300 four times), it was the ease of Australia’s wins (by 92 runs, seven wickets, 86 runs and 57 runs) that was the problem. Up against a brilliant Big Bash League 06, it was hard to get excited watching Australia flog a terrible Pakistan again.
Recently, Kevin Pietersen criticised Cricket Australia for pulling star players from BBL commitments and he’s got a point. It’s ludicrous to watch Adam Zampa doing nothing on the sidelines during the first three ODI’s when he could be released to play actual cricket for the Stars.
Test cricket has the balance right; squad members who aren’t in the first XI are sent back to Shield duties, rather than running drinks for five days. It gives local players priceless opportunities as sub fielders (like Mickey Edwards and his beautiful hair).
The Big Bash is a behemoth. Deservedly so. Huge crowds, exciting cricket and Ten does a fine job with the coverage (even looking past the regular promos for I’m a has been local celebrity stuck in the jungle and desperate for attention). The BBL is pitched perfectly in the Christmas to Australia Day holiday period, allowing families to attend and wide-eyed kids to enjoy the game without worrying about missing bedtime. It’s wonderful to be able to watch cricket every night.
So what’s the answer? Moving the ODIs to early November – and reducing them to three games – is a good start. Playing the series against Australia’s earliest Test opponent (for example, South Africa) would help the tourists get some quality cricket under their belts. It may give the Matador Cup more relevance, as form in that comp would aide Australian selection. Channel Nine would have a wonderful time hyping everyone up for the upcoming Test series. Imagine next November, with England playing three ODIs before the Ashes.
The best part? Test players would be available for the Big Bash. Imagine David Warner teeing off for the Sydney Sixers infront of a packed SCG? We’ve seen Nathan “Nice Garry” Lyon make an impact with the Sixers after the Test series, so the transition is possible. How good would an uninterrupted Big Bash would be, flush with Test players? Ten would need Scrooge McDuck’s mansion to count all the money.
It’s worth a shot.