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Published: January 4th 2016
Travis Head hits his 3rd consecutive 6 into the crowd to win the match.
It’s said you take your mate to a test match but you drag your kids to a 20/20 extravaganza. There’s plenty of rationale behind the ethos. Try keeping a 10 year olds focus for 6 hours over 5 consecutive days – good luck. But, a 3 hour wham bam thank you mam slug fest festooned with fireworks, dancing girls jiving to boom boom music and you have the recipe for a sporting family night out.
I’m a tad shy on offspring so I filled the void with a wife whose sporting tastes really do need a few bells and whistles thrown into the equation. Finding ourselves in Adelaide on New Year’s Eve and with 2 free tickets (thanks ever so much Rachel) to an otherwise sold out Big Bash match on the agenda at Adelaide Oval, it was, “Honey, we’re going to the cricket”.
We lobbed into Adelaide itself courtesy of an old friend’s impending wedding (by the way, wonderful to see her tying the knot and as happy as a rat in a flour bag). No point flying that far for a wedding on its own so we shoehorned 5 days between Christmas and
New Years Day. Cricket on New Year’s Eve was a quirky way to round off the sojourn and farewell 2015.
Despite that, Penny needed a hint of convincing. The mere mention of the word cricket is enough to have her eyes glaze over. But hey, I’m a convincing guy. Plus I agreed to hang around town afterwards for the fireworks to ring in 2016. (Fireworks shmireworks – isn’t it about time to reinvent the way we celebrate the changing of years?) So off we trudged along with 50,000 parochial Adelaide faithful decked out head to toe in blue.
I’ll be honest here. I did harbour some cynicism to this newest form of the game. Give me, any time, 5 days of a cerebral sporting contest that evolves by the hour. But following this evening, pencil me in as a convert. 20/20 is a marketing master stroke. It’s a metaphor for contemporary life in this era of immediacy. People, in particular younger generations, want results and they want them NOW. No way they’re twiddling thumbs for 5 days to see who takes home the bacon. Give them a result in 3 hours with an accompaniment
of hoopla and you have the ingredients for drawing in the punters. The cricketing future has arrived. Big Bash cricket is a stage production that is bottom feeding participation levels by lobbying the youth.
And the match itself? Balls regularly cracked over the boundry into the boisterous fans, athletic catches and peripheral entertainment unapologetically heavy on the gimmicks. Even though The Strikers (Adelaide) were up against The Sixes (Sydney, my resident town) I couldn’t help but get swept up by the local buzz and embrace the mayhem of the home side. Behind for most of the game, it was a case of strap yourself in as a single unheralded player carved 50 odd runs from the final few overs, including consecutive sixes of the final 3 balls to inch The Strikers over the line. Any result other than this daddy-of-em-all finishes would have been an anticlimax. The fans were in hog heaven.
As the dust settled on the walk down to the Torrens River for the fireworks (yawn), I couldn’t help but juxtapose the gentrified longer form of cricket against the buzz of this new kid on the block. I’m still something of loyalist
(but then I can smell my 60th
birthday) and prefer the comparatively gentrified version of an Australia/England test match (as long as we win). BUT, 20/20 Big Bash is a slice of sporting theatre. To maintain traction in a crammed Oz sporting market, the game needed to reinvent itself and target more heavily the contemporary audience. Tick. And the official evidence is in - packed grounds and TV ratings heavily outweighing soccer in the same time slots. Tick and tick again. Cricket’s share value is back on the rise.
The purists might tell you 20/20 just isn’t cricket but I’m a sucker for some kitsch and it’s got me. As I pen this, Penny is watching another Big Bash match on the box. Seems it’s hooked her as well. Next up, tennis in Melbourne.
More images at: www.colvinyeates.zenfolio.com
Tot: 3.483s; Tpl: 0.043s; cc: 40; qc: 158; dbt: 0.1071s; 3; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb