“There might be more pressure on Cricket Australia now than ever before,” Ponting said. “I’ve got no idea what Cricket Australia are thinking as far as the current model they’ve got, but it just seems that, if you look at the draft already this year, and you look at the player availability, it looks like the majority of the players are pretty happy to commit to the BBL for the first part, the first six or eight games.
“Then the South African tournament is going to start up in mid-January and you can guarantee the players are probably going to look to play the first half here and go play the second half over there, which for a tournament like the Big Bash is not ideal. So if there are ways around that and ways that that can be changed, then I think Cricket Australia most definitely have to look at that.”
Even for the local players here, if leagues start coming up in UAE, South Africa, wherever, what if a local player starts thinking I’ll get paid twice as much money to go and play over there, why would I stay here in the Big Bash
Time to go private?
Khawaja was even more forthright on the threat CA faces from the overseas tournaments. He was part of the Australian Cricketers’ Association delegates conference in Melbourne earlier this week where CA CEO Nick Hockley and head of the BBL Alistair Dobson both presented on the upcoming season and the draft. Khawaja again stated his belief the competition had to look to private investment.
“I’ve spoken about this before, I think there’s a fork in the road for the Big Bash in my personal opinion,” Khawaja said. “I don’t speak for ACA or CA, my personal opinion is the BBL needs to look to privatising because the money needs to come from somewhere. Players won’t come to the Big Bash unless you are paying them the right money.
“There are other tournaments starting up that are privatised. If you don’t keep up with that, and there’s a small window for the Big Bash to privatise in the next few years, and I’m afraid if we don’t do that we’ll fall behind. Already you’ll see players not list for the draft. I’ve talked to a couple and they’ve not listed for the draft because they want to spend Christmas at home and then will go and play in the UAE. That’s a red flag for me already.
“The money has to come from somewhere and you don’t necessarily want it to come from CA’s stock, then that affects another part of the organisation. So why not bring money from outside. I think the IPL is a very good model. If we aren’t trying to follow that type of progression, I feel like the BBL can be left behind.”
This season the BBL will run from December 13 to February 4 with overseas players able to nominate how much they are available for.
“If you are going to have 14 games like IPL the money has to match,” Khawaja said. “Even for the local players here, if leagues start coming up in UAE, South Africa, wherever, what if a local player starts thinking I’ll get paid twice as much money to go and play over there, why would I stay here in the Big Bash. Those are the questions we have to ask ourselves. I don’t think the amount of games is the issue, personally, it’s the salary cap.”
The recruitment of Australian internationals is another element to this year’s tournament with multi-format players, some of who don’t have clubs, set to be available for the last three weeks after the scheduled ODI series with South Africa was cancelled.
“I don’t think players would like to be told where they’re playing,” Ponting said. “I think they would want to have the choice. I know that was one of the things we were talking about last night is, if there is a chance for us to be able to get hold of some of the guys that are going to have quite a decent break now through the middle of this tournament, so we threw a few names around there.
“This has been spoken about for a long time now as well. How do we get the Australian players back into BBL but more importantly, if we do, how are they remunerated, and what teams are they associated with? And I think it’s coming to the point now…with these other tournaments around the world that more and more attention needs to be paid to that for the BBL’s sake.
“I think there’s a chance attracting the best overseas talent here is probably going to get harder and harder as we’ve seen already the last three or four seasons. But the most important thing is getting our best Australian players when at all available to come and play in the BBL.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo