6 January 2013, Big Bash League, Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades, 7pm, MCG.
How I became a Stars fan
When the BBL concept was announced, I wasn’t exactly thrilled that the Vics were disappearing as I had enjoyed watching the Victorian T20 performances over the recent years, particularly the night where David Hussey and Dwayne Bravo needed 51 off 18 against NSW, and got it with 2 balls to spare. However, when the Stars and Renegades teams were formed, I was quickly on the Stars bandwagon as their home ground was the MCG, and I hold an MCC membership! I also bought a “Star Gazer” membership to show my allegiances. Last season had some good moments, including the very memorable last over against Perth, but scraping into the finals wasn’t really what I’d hoped for, given I was so used to success with Victoria. I was hopeful for better this year and, for the most part, the Stars have been good, particularly the bowling of Lasith Malinga.
T20 is a great exhibition of the women’s game
I arrived early on Sunday to catch the 2nd innings of the curtain raiser match, a Womens T20 between Victoria and NSW. It was my first experience of seeing dual-international Ellyse Perry and having seen her bowling I wouldn’t want to be facing up to her anytime soon. Quick and accurate. NSW had already put 178 on the board, meaning the Vics star players Lanning and Villani had to take early risks which didn’t work. What that meant was that some of the innovative shots which are slowly disappearing from men’s T20, such as reverse sweeping and ramp shots, were used by the lower order in the hope of improving the score. It made for an entertaining match even after the result became clear. I reckon I’ll turn up to future T20’s early to catch the women’s curtain raiser based on that entertaining performance.
Come for the cricket, stay for the cricket
Stuart (@stuartfaz – give him a follow) argues that BBL promotion is all about the sideshows (http://tmblr.co/Z_JGcxb5pWhM). I agree that the sideshows can go too far – such as the bloke at Etihad Stadium who made the fateful “Yo, Sydney” comment when at a game between 2 Melbourne teams (must have been using Apple Maps or something). Stu is right that the promotions for this match, particularly on social media, made multiple references to the performers and not the cricketers. However, I am pleased to report that after arrival at the ground on Sunday, nobody gave two hoots about any entertainment not involving a bat and a ball. Pre game, a band called “the Collective” played. I didn’t pay attention. Neither did most of the kids that were either still outside the ground rolling the arm over in Yarra Park, or in the various walkways in the stadium trying to find space for a makeshift pitch. Mid-game, the kids weren’t watching Jessica Mauboy. They were asking Dad if Aaron Finch would score another 100, and asking Mum if Warne would bowl soon.
It is clear what the headline act is when at the game – it’s the cricket. Hopefully next year the BBL can use what must now be a strong archive of footage of the big plays from the past 2 seasons in its advertising, rather than fake shots accompanied by puffs of colour.
Most of the people who are very vocal about how much they dislike T20 cricket tend to be those who have grown up with test cricket, and tend to be white males. Yes, I’m generalising, but hopefully you’ll forgive me!
One of the stated aims of the BBL was to attract a more diverse following to cricket. Looking around the crowd on Sunday I think that is being achieved. Heaps of kids were there, the crowd was a fairly even balance of males and females, and of varied races. Many mums were happy to bring their kids to the game. A few of the old guard may lament the effect BBL is having on our current test team, but will BBL attract to the game the stars of the future? If we can get these kids who are interested in cricket down to their local clubs to play, I think it will.
The Stars are the “Collingwood” of the BBL
The Stars are the biggest team with the biggest attendances, based at the biggest ground. Add to that the Stars poached two of the best from their cross town rival, with an outspoken media personality as president, and one of Wisden’s top 5 players of all time as captain, who can’t keep his mouth shut. It’s probably no surprise that the Stars have been nominated as the team that everybody loves to hate. Aussies seem to prefer the underdog, and the Stars have been brash and up front about their goals of winning titles, so it’s probably no surprise that many people, especially on twitter, took great joy at not only the Stars losing, but Warnie’s brain snap as well. I now have some idea of what it feels like to follow Collingwood…
Aaron Finch is a star – I just wish he was a Star!
Of course, on the field it was all about the Renegades (1/147) who won by 9 wickets. The Stars batting line-up were disappointing as they regularly picked out fieldsmen for easy catches. Then, the bowling lacked penetration as, due to the low total (9//146), the Renegades didn’t feel compelled to hit each ball for four, and could block and wait for the loose one (which came a little too regularly). Aaron Finch made all the right moves with his captaincy in the first innings, then led his side home comfortably in the second innings. He is an amazing player in white ball cricket and I hope he excels in the Aussie ODI team over the next few weeks.
Warne and Samuels both deserve a holiday
The confrontation between those two was just plain stupid and unnecessary. There are far better ways to show passion and aggression on the field than verbal abuse, grabbing opposition players, or throwing bats and balls. I was surprised when some on my twitter feed announced they would switch allegiances from the Stars to the Renegades as a result of the confrontation, as I felt Samuels response to Warne’s provocation was poor form as well. Was Warne worse than Samuels? Probably, but both set an example for the thousands of kids attending that night that should not be followed.
I would almost go watch the Renegades play finals, but…
Aaron Finch won’t be there. He’s been selected for Australia. Here’s hoping that next season, the scheduling of the BBL is timed a bit better so that if a player is off with the ODI squad he doesn’t miss the crucial finals matches. Of course the Stars will lose Hussey, McKay, Maxwell and Malinga, so they are feeling this impact too.
Here’s hoping the Stars don’t stumble at the last hurdle to the so-far hapless Sydney Thunder tonight, meaning they too will seal a finals spot along with the Renegades. It would be great to see the two Melbourne sides make the final – and therefore the Champions League! I also don’t want to have to cop it from my twitter followers, in the way that Collingwood fans do whenever their team loses!!
Go pies? I mean, Stars!
Yours in Sport