Big Bash League is challenged by rivals in South Africa and UAE but Sydney Thunder’s Ben Cutting holds on

Australian stars choose to play in competing T20 leagues that overlap with the BBL. Ben Cutting, chased by conceded UAE teams, tells LACHLAN McKIRDY how the landscape has changed.

Ben Cutting is an unshakeable big bash. Only three players – Dan Christian, Jono Wells and Moises Henriques – have played more games than his 111.

This season marks the first time Cutting has faced serious decisions since his debut for the Brisbane Heat in BBL02 as he faces a highly competitive Australian summer.

Despite being part of the Sydney Thunder squad, Cutting has received lucrative offers from franchises in South Africa and the new UAE T20 tournaments.

“I got a few leads from both of them,” Cutting told CODE Sports.

“There is also the Sri Lankan League which started two months ago. I was tasked with this until they moved it to the BBL window.

“You have the Big Bash, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Emirates League which is huge and the South African League which is huge. And another one, Bangladesh.

“They’re all competing against the BBL because they know they can.”

Cutting’s comments reflect growing concern surrounding the Big Bash. The competition will be compressed to 43 games, but there is a consensus that the BBL needs serious changes if they are to compete with the strong financial backing of T20 competitors.

Especially in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa where franchises are being bought by Indian Premier League teams. They have money to throw around to ensure longevity.

“What I want to say is that in the first half of BBL history, no other country or tournament has attempted to schedule a tournament during the Big Bash window because they were too scared to accept it,” Cutting says.

“But now it’s four or five during the BBL window. I think that says it all.”

Chris Lynn is the only Australian to leave the Big Bash early. The in-form hitter travels to the Emirates for the ILT20 with the Gulf Giants, leaving the Strikers three games before the final.

Marcus Stoinis, who has a contract with Cricket Australia, will join the ILT20 at the end of the Melbourne Stars campaign.

Every BBL team, with the exception of the Hobart Hurricanes, is losing international players to the two new competitions over the coming fortnight.

Cutting, who only played in a handful of Thunder’s opening games, would have added more money and playing time in South Africa or the UAE.

He turned down the advances, preferring to spend a specific block of time in Australia but knows that could prove more difficult in the future.

“I like the BBL window, but I think if they want longevity and want to get it back to how it used to be, which it was supposed to be, then they need to start working a little harder at it.

“I want to help the Big Bash be as strong as possible.

“I want to help the young people who come.

“I remember when I was a young bloke it didn’t matter what format it was, I learned a lot more from the old lads I played with or against than anyone else. I feel like I can help now with this role.”

Cutting welcomes the reduction in the Big Bash schedule but hopes Cricket Australia will take a close look at how other tournaments have been so successful in attracting the world’s best players.

“It’s hard to compare. Look at the PSL, it’s half the length of the BBL. They knock out the games, get in and out. Minimal training, minimal travel.

“So it’s just the happy medium they have to find with the Big Bash. If you can run this tournament in about five weeks and have a two to three week window for the Australian players to be available I think that will do wonders for the tournament.

*****

Cutting is perfectly content being a T20 freelancer, his final state game for Queensland is in October 2019.

He warmed up for the BBL with a trip to the Abu Dhabi T10 league. He is a regular in the Pakistan Super League.

The 35-year-old knows he is nearing the twilight of his career but has taken more steps than ever to extend his playing career over the past 12 months.

An avid motorsport fan, Cutting took a page out of one of his idols’ books to cope with the mental challenges of cricket.

“I suppose the older you get the harder you have to work to stay ahead of the rest of the pack, so seeing a sports psychologist was fantastic for me,” he says.

“Noel Blundell is his name, I came across him knowing they are quite involved in motorsport for the mind games. One of my favorite racers is Mark Skaife. I researched who he used in his prime and it was Noel.”

Cutting has had numerous meetings with Blundell and continues to organize phone calls and Zoom meetings to discuss various strategies.

Simplifying cricket and encouraging cutting to draw on what made the sport so fun as a child has been at the core of her work.

“I’ve been in football for 17-18 years now, the ups and downs in that time are incredible. You get the highest highs and the really bad lows.

“That’s how you deal with it. For example, if you get injured, to make you more careful. You take care of your body, but that can be detrimental to your game, although it will give you longevity.

“The more you play at all levels, the more scars can develop. Hitting, bowling in the gym. When bad things happen, it rebounds off them.

“Noel and I talked about the term ‘freewheeling’ and playing like we used to in the backyard without thinking about the outcome.”

Cutting has also modified his bowling technique with the help of former Queensland fastman Joe Dawes by going seven yards from his run-up while working on body position in his throwing stride.

The all-rounder thinks he has even more cricket in him. He wants to achieve even more.

“I was pretty resilient. Because there were a lot of setbacks, a lot of long injuries, non-selections, problems with form and things like that,” says Cutting.

“You want to know at the end that you accomplished everything you could. In the first six or seven years I missed more cricket than I played. I was lucky enough to play a few games for Australia, but not nearly as many as I would have liked.

“So I still have something to do.

“I’m still as fit as I’ve ever been, I feel like I’m playing good cricket and I’m really enjoying it for the first time in probably two or three years. So I’ll keep going as long as I can.”

Lachlan McKirdy

Lachlan McKirdycontent producer

Lachlan McKirdy is a content producer for CODE Sports focused on cricket, NRL and Olympic sports. Lachlan has a passion for storytelling and enjoys sharing the incredible stories of athletes performing on the national and international stage.

https://www.codesports.com.au/cricket/bbl/bbl-window-smashed-opened-the-push-and-pull-factors-helping-rival-t20-leagues-sign-stars/news-story/3fd5d346c45ec98f4c7cb2cdbfe4e2d9?nk=8f6aad183b85605e049de340e761e65e-1673227745 Big Bash League is challenged by rivals in South Africa and UAE but Sydney Thunder’s Ben Cutting holds on

Ryan Sederquist

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