Big Bash innovations, including X-factor subs, complicate cricket, say Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton

The Big Bash in Australia has announced X-factor substitutes, Bash Boost and Power Surge as innovations for new season – but Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton believe league is tackling wrong problems in bid to arrest slump in crowd numbers

Last Updated: 24/11/20 6:56pm

Sydney Sixers beat Melbourne Stars in the previous Big Bash Bash Final in February

When Australia’s Big Bash League was established in 2011, the idea was not only to create a high-quality T20 tournament but to bring a new audience to the game.

It was fast-paced, exciting cricket played in front of huge crowds with a family-friendly atmosphere – and it was a huge success.

In recent years, though, with the decision to almost double the number of group-stage matches and the lack of top-class Australian players making themselves available for the tournament, attendances fell significantly.

In a bid to try and rekindle that early interest, the BBL has decided to make a few changes to the games themselves with the introduction of X-factor substitutes, the ‘Bash Boost’ and the ‘Power Surge’.

However, Sky Sports pundits Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain believe the authorities are focusing on the wrong issues. Here is what they had to say about the BBL rule changes on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast


I think the Big Bash has got some problems but they’re tackling the wrong problems. What they’re doing is tackling the game itself and I don’t see that the game itself is broken.

What’s problematic with the tournament is that it’s become too long and they’re not getting the star-quality players, so it’s become a bit flabby and bloated and it’s lost a bit of its impact because of that.

It seems to me that they aren’t really targeting the right issues. Call me old fashioned or whatever but I quite like a simple game. I like the game being simple and straightforward and it seems to me that the changes being introduced are complicating the game.

Now, as I say, I’m not anti-change at all, I’m somebody who enjoys the short form of the game, I enjoy T20 and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the changes that cricket has brought in over the years.

But in this instance, it seems to me to be overcomplicating the game and tackling the wrong problem for the Big Bash.

The powerplay in the Big Bash has been trimmed to four overs, with the batting side deciding when the other two overs of fielding restrictions come into operation

The powerplay in the Big Bash has been trimmed to four overs, with the batting side deciding when the other two overs of fielding restrictions come into operation


I think Jimmy Neesham tweeted straight away about the X-factor player – if he’s such an X-factor player then why isn’t he in the side already? Which is a very valid point. For me, and I hate saying this, I have to agree with Ath.

All the research tells you that if we’re trying to get another audience or a different audience – that is what the Big Bash was about, crowds came in for this new product – then it is about making it as simple as possible.

I judge anything that we put up on a TV screen by will my 15-year-old daughter, who plays cricket, be able to get that straightaway? No, she probably wouldn’t get all that stuff that is going on.

Just try and make it as simple and as fun as possible. Don’t complicate it. There are other issues why the Big Bash is failing and it is something else that needs to be looked at: too long a tournament but also too long a game now.

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