The Big Bash needs to go hunting for some bigger names in 2018/19.
The Big Bash needs to go hunting for some bigger names in 2018/19.

Headline acts the BBL must bring down under

CRICKET: Seven seasons in and the Big Bash is just starting to lose its headway.

Whether it's because we're coming to the end of a one-sided Ashes campaign or because the Big Bash tournament just keeps getting longer, the hottest ticket in town is starting to simmer.

Put it down to poor results, but last night's quarter-full MCG was hardly the sight that tournament organisers had hoped for.

Only 26,130 attended the Melbourne Stars-Sydney Sixers fizzer on Tuesday night - little more than half the 46,671 that attended the corresponding fixture last year.

And with two more home games to come, that number is likely to fall further.

Across the Big Bash an average of 25,654 people have gone through the gates this season, down from 30,114 - albeit a finals series is still to come.

Nonetheless, there's something about BBL07 that hasn't quite captured the same thrill as previous years.

Perhaps it's because the underwhelming performances of the Stars, Sixers and Sydney Thunder have meant that the top four finals race has been fought out between five sides.

But another reason could be the lack of "star" power on show.

Rashid Khan celebrates taking another wicket for the Adelaide Strikers.
Rashid Khan celebrates taking another wicket for the Adelaide Strikers.

The Adelaide Strikers' Rashid Khan and Melbourne Renegades' Mohammad Nabi have been two of the competition's finest players, but while their deeds on the field have been superb both lack the drawcard ability.

Yet, even Kevin Pietersen's return has had a bit of sameness about it and, well, he's only managed one half-century.

BBL07 could also spell the end of Brad Hogg and Brad Hodge's careers, as they get older and their powers on the field diminish.

There was something nostalgic about seeing the likes of Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and co wind up their careers in the competition.

Ricky Ponting played for the Hobart Hurricanes in the early seasons of the BBL.
Ricky Ponting played for the Hobart Hurricanes in the early seasons of the BBL.

Even their transitions to the commentary box were sometimes more interesting than the action on display.

Bearing that in mind, who are the names the Big Bash must attract to keep the tournament fresh and captivating?

We've put a list together of the five international names the Big Bash must entice over.

AB DE VILLIERS

The South African has just returned to the Test arena after the best part of two years out of the game and immediately announced himself cracking two half-centuries against India.

Over the past two years Steve Smith and Virat Kohli have entrenched themselves as the world's premier batsmen, but de Villiers is right next to them.

The former South African captain turns 34 next month and was contemplating retirement last year from the red ball game.

He returned to help South Africa in its quest to reach the summit of Test cricket again.

A series win over Australia in March could be the icing on the cake.

He belted the fastest one-day international century against the West Indies during the 2015 World Cup and 18,000 international runs rank him among the game's modern greats.

Owner of the fastest ODI century in history.
Owner of the fastest ODI century in history.

CHRIS GAYLE

If you're after headlines and marketability, then who else but the self-confessed "Universal Boss".

Gayle attracted a flurry of negative headlines during his last stint in the Big Bash with his unsavoury "Don't blush, baby" comments during a mid-game interview.

His form during his latter stints in the Big Bash left much to be desired too.

But his form has since returned and he found a supporter in Brendon McCullum late last year after the duo helped Rangpur Riders to the Bangladesh Premier League title.

The biggest speed bump for a Gayle return would likely be the franchises themselves, with none likely to take a punt on him.

But with a track record of producing big runs and bigger sixes, he would certainly get people talking about the competition.

Chris Gayle and Melbourne Stars boss Eddie McGuire.
Chris Gayle and Melbourne Stars boss Eddie McGuire.

BEN STOKES

England's bad boy who missed the Ashes campaign because of an incident in Bristol which saw him recently charged with affray.

On the field, Stokes is a genuine match winner. England's Ashes campaign blew up in smoke the moment he was stood down after his late-night altercation.

He's powerful at the crease, crafty with the ball and athletic in the field.

He'd cop a gobful from Australian audiences for playing the villain, but he'd equally be someone that Australian audiences would tune in to.

 

DALE STEYN

One of cricket's finest bowlers, Steyn falls into the same category as his teammate de Villiers.

The right-arm quick with more than 400 Test wickets is respected right across the world.

A swing demon, Steyn's strike rate of 41.5 in Test cricket is extraordinary.

At 34, he's in the twilight of his career.

His body hasn't helped him in recent years.

Steyn made his return to Test cricket last week after more than a year out of the game and lasted just one innings during the first Test against India, before succumbing to injury.

He should be fit to play Australia for their upcoming series, but how much longer he remains in the game remains to be seen.

For any aspiring quick, to learn from him would be a master class.

India's Yuvraj Singh would be an improbable coup for the BBL.
India's Yuvraj Singh would be an improbable coup for the BBL.

YUVRAJ SINGH

Due to the Indian cricket board's ridiculous policies, Yuvraj - and any Indian domestic cricketer for that matter - isn't eligible to play in the Big Bash or any foreign T20 tournament.

But what a coup Singh would be.

At 36, his career is winding down but he still has plenty to offer in the shorter formats of the game.

A World Cup-winner, a cancer survivor, someone who can belt the ball out of a ground and hold up an end with the ball, Singh is the complete package.



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