How the BBL has recovered – and why it has to deliver top performance again and again

After 60 games in seven weeks, BBL 12 reaches its dissolution in Perth when the Scorchers take on the Brisbane Heat in a packed Optus Stadium on Saturday.

The summer began with the long-awaited BBL return of David Warner, as well as Steve Smith, whose back-to-back barrels lit up the end of the tournament. In between we’ve had Matt Short and the Strikers chasing the Hurricanes’ 229 at the Adelaide Oval, and breakout seasons for new stars like Aaron Hardie and Paddy Dooley.

For players, admins and fans, the BBL has regained a sense of exuberance and vitality this season.

The millionth viewer is expected to watch this summer’s BBL on Saturday evening. At home, free-to-air and pay-TV viewership is approaching that number most nights and trending upwards again. We’ve seen some amazing feats with both racquet and ball, but the increased interest is also due to the access our players provide by being connected to the mic during games. This insight into tactics and personalities is critical to instilling a sense of connection with the fans.

With all this success, it’s worth noting that – to paraphrase Mark Twain – previous reports of his death have been grossly exaggerated. For two years, the competition was affected by COVID-19. Isolating themselves from friends and family over the summer with strict quarantine and biosecurity precautions, players eventually battled outbreaks of infection in their own camps – all to keep the game going and lay a foundation for when competition returned to normal. The return of spectators has renewed the connection between fans and players, fundamental to the success of any sports league.

After such a successful summer, Australian cricket must seize the opportunity to establish the BBL as one of the preeminent Twenty20 leagues in the world.

The match between the Heat and the Sixers at the SCG on Thursday.

The match between the Heat and the Sixers at the SCG on Thursday.Credit:Getty

Cricket Australia has already shown its intention to use this summer’s triumph to create an even livelier competition. Proposed salary cap increases (again for the WBBL) and treatment of the duration of the competition (albeit from the start of the next broadcast deal) will go a long way in enabling the BBL to compete with ambitious overseas leagues by attracting the world’s best players .

Ultimately, the success of the BBL – and any league – depends on the quality of the players involved. Providing the world’s best talent with adequate incentives to play in Australia, including their team selection, must be part of any future strategy. How the BBL has recovered – and why it has to deliver top performance again and again

Ryan Sederquist

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