Brendon McCullum has suggested greater New Zealand involvement in the Big Bash League later this year if international cricket or the availability of overseas players remains restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are positive signs that the Australian season could be able to take shape somewhat as scheduled – there even remains hope that the T20 World Cup could be played in October – with every effort being made to enable to the lucrative series against India to survive. Cricket Australia has started conversations with the federal government about what protocols would need to be in place to allow international teams to visit later in the year.
While there remain plenty of hurdles to cross before fully-fledged international sport can take place there has already been progress in links between Australia and New Zealand resuming with the Warriors rugby team arriving in Tamworth, New South Wales, at the weekend to prepare for the resumption of the NRL later this month and there are talks at government level about a travel “bubble” between the two countries.
“If there is a shortage of international cricket what an opportunity for the Big Bash, which if we are being honest has probably just tailed off a little bit of late, what a great opportunity to really morph that back into Australia sporting fans’ eyes,” McCullum, who had eight seasons with the Brisbane Heat, told SEN radio. “And I think what a great opportunity to maybe bring a New Zealand team into the Big Bash or use New Zealand players as local players because there may be a distinct lack of overseas players.
“A little bit of creative thinking. It may be just for one season but we have to prepare for the long-term if you are going to grow the game there may be some value.”
However, if New Zealand’s international players are not playing in December and January – they are due to have a visit by Pakistan – NZC would likely see it as a chance to have them available for the T20 Super Smash which usually runs concurrently with the first part of the Big Bash from mid-December.
One of the contingency plans in place should next season be disrupted is the potential for Australia and New Zealand to play each other if movement between those two countries is more feasible than broader international travel. There remain two ODIs to play from the curtailed series in March plus three T20Is that were due to be hosted in New Zealand.
The Big Bash will mark its 10th anniversary in the 2020-21 season and before the pandemic had commissioned a review by David Barham, the television executive who was central to the BBL’s rise while at Channel 10, into what could be done to revitalise the competition. The most intriguing suggestion out of the review was the prospect of four-innings T20 matches in an attempt to ensure contests are alive for longer.