How many will watch Scorchers vs Hurricanes? (Paul Kane/Getty Images)
How many will watch Scorchers vs Hurricanes? (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Big test for the short game

CRICKET may have shot itself in the foot by seeking a 200 per cent increase in Big Bash television rights, then sabotaging the finals series it hoped would seal the deal.

In a massive 48 hours for the Big Bash, the Perth Scorchers play the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday and the Adelaide Strikers take on the Melbourne Renegades in Thursday's semi-final.

The finals ratings will be monitored closely by executives from rivals bidders from Channels 9 and 10.

It will give them some idea whether the Big Bash can thrive not simply over Christmas in the non-ratings period but when the big shows such as Nine's cringe-worthy yet crowd-pulling Married At First Sight starts in late January.

WOE: White's regret at missed chance

CONFIDENCE: Gades hitting stride at right time

WBBL: Sixers in box seat for third final

How many will watch Scorchers vs Hurricanes? (Paul Kane/Getty Images)
How many will watch Scorchers vs Hurricanes? (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Cricket Australia has contemplated expanding the Big Bash into mid-February in the next five-year rights deal even though several franchises and networks have reservations about taking it beyond the school holidays.

A deal is expected to be sealed in the next three months amid expectations the fee will rise from $20 million per year to somewhere approaching $60 million.

Big Bash organisers are desperate for massive ratings in the finals and want their well-established product to be at its glistening best.

The problem is that eight players who should be playing will be tied up with the Australian T20 side in camp for the "who cares'' T20 tri-series against England and New Zealand.

Aaron Finch (Renegades), Kane Richardson (Renegades), Ashton Agar (Scorchers), Andrew Tye (Scorchers), Alex Carey (Strikers), Travis Head (Strikers), Billy Stanlake (Strikers) and D'Arcy Short (Hurricanes) will be forced to watch their teams on television while in camp with the Australian team.

Aaron Finch will be one of those missing faces. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)
Aaron Finch will be one of those missing faces. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)

Not having players like Steve Smith in the Big Bash for the entire season is a setback the competition has learnt to live with and many fans take just as much pleasure from seeing new stars emerge and lesser names thrive.

But it truly makes the finals seem second rate when you pluck the bleeding hearts out of the four teams involved by taking out players who got them there in the first place.

Many viewers will switch on to the finals broadcast expecting to see Short teeing off for the Hurricanes or Tye bowling his feisty seamers for the Scorchers.

As Scorchers coach Justin Langer said on radio yesterday "when you started confusing the public you have a problem ... it happened in England with all their competitions.''

 

Aaron Finch will be one of those missing faces. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)
Aaron Finch will be one of those missing faces. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)

 

The clash of the Big Bash finals with the international T20 series is one of the poorest pieces of cricket programming in recent seasons.

Big Bash television ratings have been down up to 10 per cent this season but are still strong.

When Cricket Australia sold the competition to Channel 10 five years ago they projected free-to-air ratings of 500,000 yet such has been the competition's success in some seasons they have averaged more than one million.

This has not been a watershed season but the product is still a winner and one of Cricket Australia's finest success stories.



He only took his eyes off the road for a second

He only took his eyes off the road for a second

By the time he looked up it was too late to avoid a disastrous crash

GALLERY: Drovers, Brothers slog it out in close contest

GALLERY: Drovers, Brothers slog it out in close contest

Players' wet-weather skills put to the test on sodden Victoria Park

Local Partners