Sydney Thunder’s English opener Alex Hales is confident a shortened Big Bash season will encourage more international stars to travel for future competitions as a stack of overseas players prepare to leave Australia for other leagues.
Hales has one more match for the Thunder before he joins the UAE T20 League, with other BBL headliners including Faf du Plessis, Sam Billings and Rashid Khan also set to leave in the coming days if they haven’t already done so.
It’s a blow to the BBL given the finals start in a few weeks, but it’s an issue that may not be repeated with Cricket Australia’s new broadcast deal including a big change to the competition that will see the season reduced from 61 games to 43, potentially taking two weeks off the six-week long tournament.
While the new broadcast deal doesn’t start until 2024, that change could be implemented as soon as next season and will have a huge impact on the competition with international stars set to be more inclined to play in a shorter season.
This year’s competition started on December 13 and won’t finish until the final on February 4, making it one of the longest tournaments in the world for both players and fans.
A stack of stars, including those taken in the inaugural BBL draft, either pulled out of the tournament or signed on for a handful of games because they couldn’t commit to an entire campaign due to the packed schedule.
Hales said the impending BBL changes would encourage the world’s best T20 players to come to Australia.
“I love playing here for a couple of months because there is no better place to play cricket for a long period of time,” the Englishman told the NCA NewsWire as he prepares for the Sydney Smash on Sunday.
“But with all the money in the shorter comps in other countries, it’s too hard for players to commit for such a long period of time.
“I think it definitely makes it easier now. There are so many comps around the world from December through to March so it becomes seriously cramped and congested with all these different competitions that last between three and five weeks.
“Reducing the games would definitely help international players commit to the BBL.
“I’d really love to play the whole tournament and it feels a bit strange leaving Australia halfway through.
“Unfortunately, nothing can be done about it this year, but looking forward to future years, I want to play the whole thing and I think reducing the games will definitely help overseas players to commit.”
The Thunder are flying high and ordinarily would be in a world of hurt with Hales and Rilee Rossouw about to leave, but they have a not so secret trump card about to arrive who could catapult them into title favouritism.
Aussie opener David Warner is about to end a nine-year absence from the BBL after he signed a mega deal that will see him join the Thunder after the Sydney Test wraps up on January 8.
“I’ve never played in the same team as him so it’s a real shame that I’m not going to get to play with him. He’s one of the best cricketers in the world across all three formats so it’s a real shame that we won’t play this year,” Hales said.
“It’s a nice feeling knowing that we’ve got a guy with such world-class ability coming in to replace me.
“The guys are really excited because it’s not often that the big Australian stars get a chance to play in the Big Bash, so it’ll be great for the Thunder to have someone of that calibre for the backend of the tournament.”