BBL is growing up!

When the original Big Bash was played over a decade ago it was between state teams in state colours. It turned heads, filled stadiums and was definitely the future. But it was nothing too serious.

Nicknames were written on the back of players’ shirts and they did unconventional things. The name on Tasmanian Star George Bailey’s shirt was ‘Geronimo’ and in one game he fielded in an orange wig. Football stars (Andrew Johns the best example) appeared on team lists and actually played out in the middle.
With the end of the state vs state format and the advent of the phenomenon that it is the BBL the crowds kept growing and everyone stopped taking the Mickey. Where once there were laughs and backslaps there were now frowns of concentration.
In the BBL07 game between the Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday night T20 cricket reached a level of scrutiny of the type ordinarily seen at Test Matches. When the Heat batsman Alex Ross sprinting for the safety of his crease line veered in to the line of the incoming throw the ball hit him on the back leg then ricocheted on to his stumps. Ross was safely home but there was an historic twist. The Hurricanes then appealed that by moving off course Ross had obstructed the field, an offence for which a player can be given out. The appeal was upheld and Alex Ross was on his way, the first time a player has been given out for obstructing the field in a top level game in Australia.
After what was a very tight game the two skippers George Bailey for the Hurricanes and Brendon McCullum for the Heat engaged in earnest conversation. Issues both moral and technical were in play. Should the Hurricanes have invoked the appeal? Should Ross have simply stayed on the same course? Did the umpire really know if Ross had tried to obstruct the field or did it just look that way?
McCullum’s manner was that of the Kiwi who’s grown up under the spectre of the underarm bowling incident in 1981 (the year he was born). His position – some things just aren’t what the game is all about. Bailey played the pragmatic but deadly serious Aussie.
In a summer where there’s been few cricket surprises the Ross dismissal whist not exactly sparking an international incident raised some profound technical and ethical issues around the game as well as a discussion about its higher purpose.
More the sort of conversation you’d expect during the grind of a test series than at a three hour game between a tem in teal and another in purple.
Despite a lifetime following this game you never quite know where it’s going to take you..

 

**Image Alex Roos courtesy of Big bash.com.au

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